¡Hola! My name is Alexandra Sakoula and I have been volunteering for 9 months in the Valencia Community in Spain. I take part in an Erasmus+ project as an English language teaching assistant in a vocational training center named CIFP Luis Suñer Sanchis. To give some background about myself: I am Greek-American, I was born and raised in the USA but all my life I maintained strong connections to Greece through my father and through yearly family visits. After university I decided to come live in Europe. I believe that participating in an Erasmus+ project is a perfect way to establish myself professionally in Europe, make connections, gain experience, learn a new language, and use my skills to help a community.
The vocational center offers a wide range of courses from administrative management to heating and air conditioning installation for students from the age of 16 and older.
I am involved in traditional classes and I host my own informal conversation sessions with students and teachers who are looking to improve their English. It is an excellent opportunity because they can converse with a native speaker and learn to use the language more dynamically. I teach basic grammar, sentence structure, and have conversations about any topic that suits the level of English.
Additionally, I support and promote the center’s Erasmus program. I read student applications and prepare any documents necessary for the students who are traveling on an Erasmus program to other European countries.
My time in Spanish has been incredibly valuable. I am cultivating a strong identity as a European citizen through my many experiences and learnings, some of which I will highlight. After 9 months of learning Spanish, I can defend myself and have conversations in this language; it is important to learn other languages and this is something that is not common in the USA. Also, I can now successfully prepare lesson plans and conversation topics. I adapt my lessons so they contain relevant vocabulary for the themes taught at the center such as agricultural, technical, or business terms. Finally, I learned how to work and cooperate with many different kinds of people from different backgrounds and cultures.
The chaos of coronavirus presented many problems and uncertainties, but I am able to continue enjoying my project fully by teaching online. It is a new opportunity and potential to make things digital – including career and work – and I believe this is important also as the world advances with computers and technology. I am incredibly happy with my Erasmus+ project and I believe it has adequately prepared me for my future.