I was a recipient of the TESOL Leadership Mentoring Program Award in March 2023. I'm sharing my Goal Statement below. I'll share my Statement of Interest in the next post.
Do you teach Chinese? Do you teach English to Chinese people? You need to control your emotions. You come across too aggressive. Your communication style is indirect. She’s just an ESL teacher.
These are words of bewilderment, skepticism, criticism, and belittlement that have stuck with me during my 12-year career as a Vietnamese nonnative English speaking ESL teacher in the U.S. I suspect they have more to do with the assumptions and expectations based on my race and gender than how I really am. During my academic career in the U.S., I have enjoyed the freedom to pursue my dreams in my studies, work, research, and community service instead of being caught up in what I once saw as the “insufferable” web of obligations, expectations, and interdependence in my home country. I used to think of the road ahead as having no barriers until my recent awareness of the relatively limited opportunities available for members of minority communities. Sitting on the margin of the academic life of a university, serving minority students in the U.S., and striving to advance as a minority without the social capital others enjoy have made me realize the once invisible barriers. These realizations have highlighted the responsibility of inclusive leaders to remove barriers and provide opportunities for all to rise.
Apart from the negative comments, I have also received encouragement from colleagues, praising the work I’m doing. One says, “You’re a leader. You’ll go far.” When I was selected for the position of Coordinator (now Director) of the English Language Program at Chatham University 11 years ago, I was tasked with managing a fast-growing program for international students while being relatively new to the country and new to management. It was certainly a challenging but exciting time, which tested and pushed my problem-solving, organizational, and interpersonal skills to the limits. Supervising almost 20 teachers and staff members and working with over 100 full-time students, I had the opportunity to grow quickly as a leader, and with a noticeable level of hard work, responsibility, and competence, my success at work was widely noticed by my institution.
For professional growth, I became a member of TESOL International and Three Rivers TESOL (3RT). I ran for the board of 3RT and served as Vice-President, President, and Past-President between 2014 and 2016. Taking my volunteer job just as seriously as my day job, I made outreach to school districts to engage more K-12 teachers, gathered information from all stakeholders to participate fully in the TESOL Advocacy and Policy Summit in 2015, and organized successful conferences and events for 3RT. I was commended by colleagues as the “most active president” in a long time. Currently, as Chair of the Affiliate Network Professional Council, I contribute to creating a strong and robust network of Affiliates and support TESOL’s mission and priorities. Being selected for the LMP will allow me to grow in my capacity to support TESOL in increasing its global impact and promoting DEIA goals internationally.