by Katlin Decker (CII-4) 

Before I even applied to Peace Corps and graduate school, I remember hearing many people say how Peace Corps would open doors. I became a PC Masters International student back in 2011 because combining a graduate program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and PC service in an English teaching program seemed like an ideal step in my career path in the field of English language instruction. Without a doubt this combination has indeed opened doors for me, such as the opportunity to develop the English language program at a new university in Ecuador.

I had been teaching in the Intensive English Program at Arizona State University (ASU) when instructors were asked if they wanted to be part of a small team to go teach in Tena, Ecuador. I expressed interest and I believe was selected to go largely due to my experience as a PCV in Cartagena, Colombia. ASU and the Universidad Regional Amazonica IKIAM have a contract for ASU to assist in setting up the English program at IKIAM. As part of the team here, I’m teaching university level English classes, hiring and training new teachers, and developing curriculum.

Prior teaching experience and my graduate courses taught me many of the technical skills I use in this position with ASU and IKIAM, but my PC service gave me the language skills, adaptability, flexibility, and cultural awareness to be successful living and working in Tena. As a PCV I understood the importance of becoming a member of my community, learning from and sharing with others in that community. In the same way, I strive to be an active member of the IKIAM community not only in my role as an English teacher, but also taking part in sports tournaments with students and faculty, assisting teachers in other disciplines, and participating in other activities on and off campus. I’m incredibly grateful for how my MATESOL and PC service have prepared me for and led to what has been a great experience both professionally and personally. I look forward to future doors PC will open for me in the U.S. or abroad!