Teaching Abroad

Grambling State University has a history of being internationally known, from its World Famed Tiger Marching Band to one of the greatest coaches of all time in Coach Eddie Robinson. With the international fame, GSU students are embarking on jobs worldwide. Alajahwon Ridgeway is one of those students.Ridgeway will be making his way to Paris, France on Nov. 5 for an intense teacher’s training course to teach an intermediate and post-intermediate English course. The training course entails of a class daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for a month. Ridgeway will have to be on top of his game at all times, as expulsions are easy to come by.

The Certificate for English Teaching to Adults selected Ridgeway for the program. The University of Cambridge sponsors the program.

“The expulsion of the student can occur at any given point if the mistakes are not corrected by two sessions,” he explained. “Other minor expulsions can occur for tardiness, not adhering to the codes of conduct, unprofessional behavior outside of the course, and other things.”

While Ridgeway’s training course does not start until Nov. 5, he is already in Europe, traveling the nation and searching for accommodations. However, Ridgeway had to complete some tasks before being selected for the teacher’s training course.

“Despite the passport and the acquisition of birth certificate,” he said, “I was required to perform a pre-interview task that required me to answer about 20 questions concerning grammar, pronunciation, syntax, and a written portion. Upon completion, a two hour phone interview is conducted and at the completion, if everything is up to par, then an invitation to join the program is extended.”

Ridgeway credits his will and desire to teach to several people, including GSU professors.

“Great teachers like Dr. McJamerson and Dr. Helen Richards-Smith made learning a life experience and not a test,” he said. “They made knowledge practical and planted seeds for personal growth. Dr. (Chimegsaikhan) Banzar, Dr. (Steve) Favors, Dr. (Pamela) Payne, Coach Larry Wright.all had different teaching styles that fostered a passion inside of myself to instill education into the hearts and souls of other people. There are countless numbers of teachers that have been a huge help in my decision but those styles were unique.”

His experience at GSU has been a unique one as well. He credits GSU’s diversity for preparing him to travel to Europe to teach.

“[GSU provided] me a place to meet great friends from across the nation,” Ridgeway said. “My two best friends Joe Vega from Southern California, Martez Stevens from Delaware, the men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated, and foreign exchange students from all over the world has opened my vision of what the good life looks like.”

Ridgeway plans to share some of that good life with his students in Paris. Although English will be taught as a second language, Ridgeway plans to be unique, just like those who inspired him.

“Ultimately, I’ll be teaching them that a language is more than the collaboration of words and phrases but a strong representation of a culture that thrives on the communication amongst its members,” he said. “Also, you make language unique; you must make the language personal. Only when you master this will you master the English language.”

As Ridgeway prepares to embark on a extraordinary journey to Paris and teach his students the English language, he does leave some advice behind.

“Don’t look at the next person to determine what you want to do. Looking at another man’s wallet won’t put money in your pockets. This idea also applies to life accomplishments. You determine your own success level because in the morning you can only be yourself.”

“Unhappiness comes from comparison.