Born to immigrant parents and raised in the New York area, Gabriel Garbar has always been curious about other cultures. Earlier this year, he learned about Russian culture and education by helping Russian teachers and students improve their English skills.
Gabriel Garbar was among 80 Americans who participated in the State Department’s Virtual English study and professional programs this year. The program he participated in paired English teachers in the United States with teachers and students in Russia. In 2022, more than 600 Americans embarked on the same adventure with teachers and students from other countries.
This professor, who had already taken courses on four continents at the university and high school level, wanted to “take a deeper look at another corner of the world and at the same time help [ses] students to achieve their academic and professional goals.
At the end of this educational project, he said that he enjoyed “working with some of the kindest and most sincere students” he had known in a long time.
It is one of many State Department programs that exemplify the U.S. government’s commitment to promoting people-to-people contact between its citizens and those of other countries.
Meet the other two Americans who participated in the same program as Gabriel Garbar this year.
From her home in Memphis, Tennessee—the birthplace of Elvis Presley and the grill—Alyssa Bulow raved about her students: they constantly amazed her with “their dedication and the amount of work” they provided. So they made progress in English.
Alyssa Bulow has over ten years of teaching experience in institutions in the United States and bilingual programs in Asia, North and South America, and Eastern Europe.
Most of the professors she trained taught full-time while doing research.
“They had a keen awareness of the utility of a fluent presentation in English to share their research with the global scientific community and never lost sight of their goals,” she noted. Alyssa Bulow is the director of the Memphis-based Connect Language Center, which offers English as a Second Language programs and teacher training.
She points out that one of her students in Russia is working with an indigenous tribe in Siberia*. Together, they organize days of environmental education so that children of Russian schools learn to take better care of nature and become familiar with their cultural heritage. “Russia is a huge and interesting country,” he marvels.
“Enthusiasm, determination and a spirit of cooperation” were the qualities that impressed Daniel Sloan in his Russian students, whom he worked with from his home in California.
Dan Sloan teaches business management courses at Simpson University in Redding, California, and has taught in China and Southeast Asia for nearly ten years.
“The lessons regularly led to moments of unexpected cultural learning,” he says.
From the project he participated in, he remembers the “transparency, authenticity and kindness of the Russian people”. Memories and lessons close to his heart.
Knowing another culture and another language brings great satisfaction, adds Dan, whose project focused on American law and legal English.
“I got more than I gave when the Russian participants took the lessons further by revealing their empathy, humanity and cultural understanding,” he says.