Fulbright teaching assistant shares culture, language with CCC students

Date: Friday, 3rd March 2023

Pamela Espindola is a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant working at CCC in Flagstaff.



FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - She may be half a world away from her home in Argentina, but Pamela Espíndola is at Coconino Community College doing what she loves:


She’s teaching students Spanish.


“My job here is to work as a cultural ambassador and to help with the courses to have students learn a foreign language,” she said.


Espíndola is a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant for Spanish courses taught at CCC, and she is the fourth one that the college has been graced to receive said Katie Schwartz, Spanish faculty at the college who supervises the FLTAs.


“This is a big deal for CCC because we can’t pay to help with living expenses,” Schwartz said, adding that the organization, International Institute of Education, helped create a grant with the U.S. Department of Education to make a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant for CCC a reality. In fact, the first FLTA at CCC shared having such a positive experience at the college that all the subsequent FLTAs have been possible. CCC’s FLTAs have come from Argentina, Columbia and Mexico so far.


While in Flagstaff and being a teaching assistant 20 hours a week at CCC, the FLTAs must also take two classes at the college.


Schwartz said, “From my perspective, it has been incredible to watch their interactions with the students in the classroom and outside the classroom.”


Espíndola, already a teacher in Argentina, said she heard about the program to teach abroad while she was studying.


“I knew I needed some experience in the field,” she said, adding that when applying to be a FLTA, Flagstaff was among six places she was interested in working, and the International Institute of Education settled on Flagstaff for her.


She began in the fall of 2022 and will be at CCC until May. She’s come a long way with her English in that time.


“Having an interaction with a native speaker of English … it was a little bit hard at the beginning,” Espíndola said.


Actual conversations go beyond the books to include slang terms people use and the special ways that people pronounce words in different parts of the English-speaking world.


“The most rewarding part is getting to know people from all around,” Espíndola said.


She added that she appreciated having the opportunity to teach students at levels beyond elementary and high school. She teaches English as a Foreign Language in Argentina to children and teens.


“It’s a completely different experience,” Espíndola said. “Adults have a much deeper commitment to education than teenagers. They appreciate your efforts and that’s really rewarding, too.”


Schwartz said that Espíndola also teaches extracurricular activities beyond the classroom. During different days of the week, she could be found participating in Salsa dancing, having conversations in Spanish and even hosting a book club where the students discuss authors who write in Spanish.


Espíndola said her future plan is to return to Argentina after she completes her work at CCC and to expand working in the fields of translating and interpreting.


“I love teaching,” she said. “But I would definitely like to explore more opportunities.”


For more information about languages and other Arts and Humanities courses taught at CCC, visit https://www.coconino.edu/paths/arts-humanities#arts-humanities. For more information about Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistants, visit https://foreign.fulbrightonline.org/about/flta-program.





All Dates

  • Friday, 3rd March 2023