Andrew Pfrenger

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Description of Service: Andrew Pfrenger began Peace Corps training on July 27, 1999 in Vladivostok, Primorski Krai, Russia Far East and completed a 10-week training program. Training included a course in the Russian language (145 hours), Cultural Awareness (81 hours), and Technical training. Cultural awareness included lectures and discussions on political developments, economic and historical issues, and living with a Russian host family throughout the training period. Technical training (129.5 hours TEFL Tech) included methodology of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), practice teaching, and structured observations and feedback.

Andrew Pfrenger was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer on October 1, 1999. He was responsible to the Ministry of Higher Education. Andrew served as a teacher of English assigned to Secondary School #8, located in the small town of Arsenyev, Primorski Krai.

Andrew worked primarily with one English teacher to develop daily lessons and curriculums for grades 5-11. He also taught several optional classes of English a week, on themes included American history, English conversation, and business English. He reported directly to Tamara Ivanovna Yagodina, Vice-Principal of the School. He was responsible for teaching the following courses: English (grades 5-11), Conversational English, Ecology, American History, Business English (Advanced), and Business English (Beginners).

The American History course covered the period from colonization through World War I. The curriculum included a mix of lectures, readings, and debate. Students read and analyzed contemporary literary texts.

The ecology classes included the teaching of basic environmental concepts along with English vocabulary. Students practiced basic reading, writing, conversation, and grammar skills through activities which also emphasized knowledge acquisition about local ecosystems and critical thinking about environmental issues.

Andrew also organized some events in his time at School #8. These included a Halloween Party and a Haunted House (staffed by older students).

Andrew Pfrenger also wrote a grant and received funding for an English Language Resource Center, complete with a xerox machine, books, video and audio cassettes, visual aids, a TV, computer, printer, and VCR for Arsenyev's students and teachers.

In addition to regular teaching duties, Andrew conducted an English club once a week for interested adults and older students. Through word of mouth, attendance increased to a core group of 5-6 advanced speakers, with regular attendance between 10-15. Club members would decide on their own what they wanted to discuss, and Andrew would prepare discussion activities. Topics included medicine, education, holidays, the American justice system, and the environment. Along with the town's head English teacher, Andrew also organized a teacher's club which met once a month. Meetings were informal and the emphasis was on topics which would help teachers prepare their students for their exams.

Andrew Pfrenger assisted a local youth leader in building an adult KVN team in his last four months in Arsenyev. Working together with other teachers and community members, they built a team, wrote a script, and participated in a townwide KVN contest, taking second place. The youth organization Sozvezdiye presented him with a copy of their KVN curriculum and a video, in hopes that he would be able to bring KVN to American students.

After 24 months of Peace Corps service, Andrew was tested by a certified ACTFL examiner. He scored Intermediate-High in spoken Russian.

Supplemental Information: Other highlights of Andrew's service included membership in a Tourism club led by Igor Kuleshov, accompanying local gatherers into the taiga to harvest seasonal foods and medicines, learning to make samagon from a friendly OBZ instructor, and skiing recreationally with a local cross-country team.

Current Information: Andrew currently teaches at the University of Connecticut and is completing his Phd in Medieval Studies. He is the father of three children.