Danai Long

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Description of Service

After a competitive application process stressing applicant skills, adaptability and cross-cultural understanding, Ms. Leslie Danai Long was invited into Peace Corps service. She was assigned as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Teacher Trainer (191) in Akhurian, Armenia.

Ms. Long entered training on June 3rd of 2004, participating in an intensive 12-week training program in Dilijan, Armenia. Technical training included the history of the Educational System in Armenia during the Soviet period and post-Soviet period; current trends in the Armenian Educational System; and the Ministry of Education’s current projects, specifically teacher training workshops, team teaching, classroom management and new methodology. Area Studies training included the history, economics and cultural norms of Armenia. Language training included the acquisition of both written and spoken Armenian. As a part of the language and cross-cultural training component, Leslie Danai Long lived with an Armenian host family for the entire length of her two year service.

In August of 2004, Ms. Long arrived in Akhurian, a former Soviet village with approximately 8000 people, as the first Peace Corps TEFL Volunteer. While teaching over 300 students at Akhurian 1st School, Ms. Long developed lesson plans, learning aides and up-to-date curriculum supplementary materials for teaching. These materials were shared with other Peace Corps Volunteers who also used these materials in other secondary schools throughout Armenia. In her community, Ms Long also conducted an English club twice a week for the local government office employees to assist with their English Language acquisition.

Ms. Long worked extensively with two local English Teachers on tasks such as team teaching: introducing them to local and international TEFL organizations and teacher trainings; and sharing new and useful teaching aids and techniques. Ms. Long had meaningful interactions with over 50 in-service and pre-service local English teachers, where she coordinated, participated and/or presented at Teacher Training Seminars and Workshops facilitated by Peace Corps (6), British Council (12), Project Harmony workshops (3) and AELTA (3).

During her first year of service, Ms Long established a village outreach program in the village of Tsoghamarg that provided 60 children with after school English clubs once a week. This interaction provided students with alternative learning methods and the opportunity to meet Americans for the first time. Due to her work, evaluation and recommendation Tsoghamarg Secondary School later became the site for a new Peace Corps Volunteer.

Ms Long was chosen as one of two Peace Corps Volunteers to teach in the American Councils of Armenia FLEX Pre-Departure Orientation Training. She created lesson plans and learning tools for the twice held, four day Pre-Departure Orientation sessions. In these sessions, 50 Armenian students were taught about American people, their culture, daily habits, living in America, and what to expect while attending American schools. She created visual aids for learning tools which were used in all FLEX Orientations throughout Russia, the Ukraine and the Caucasus countries.

Ms Long was able to refurbish a classroom at Akhurian School #1 for the sole purpose of teaching English with donations of time, labor, money and materials from local and foreign individuals. The English room will not only provide the local students with a pleasant environment conducive to learning English, but it will also provide the students and local community members with an abundant supply of English resources.

Ms Long presented in several Peace Corps organized conferences. She led the TEFL session at the All Volunteer Conference held in November 2005. This session provided answers and advice to many of the new volunteers’ questions and concerns about teaching and learning in the Armenian Educational system, as well as sharing best teaching practices.

Ms. Long facilitated a two-day workshop on “Creating and Using Visual Aides” which was attended by twelve TEFL Peace Corps Volunteers in January 2006. The workshop provided the participants with hands-on experience in creating and using visual aids in a variety of ways in the English language classroom. Many ideas, techniques and experiences were exchanged amongst the Peace Corps Volunteers to be taken and used throughout Armenia.