Each summer, Participate Learning welcomes hundreds of ambassador teachers to the U.S. to unite our world through global learning. The process for becoming a part of the Participate Learning family of ambassador teachers is rigorous during a “typical” year. With many steps, from application to interview to school placement, this process is truly a way to determine who is the right fit for our programs, and for whom the Participate Learning family is the right fit. Navigating this process during a worldwide pandemic presents new challenges and requires a tremendous amount of flexibility and patience from all parties.
Meet Cecilia Camarero, one of our newest ambassador teachers, who has proven that she has extraordinary patience and the tenacity to integrate herself into the Participate Learning community, prior to officially joining our 2021-2022 orientation class!
Cecilia: In her own words
I am Cecilia Camarero, and I am from a small town called Cipolletti, in Río Negro province, Argentina. I have been teaching for more than 12 years. I graduated as an English teacher at Comahue University in my country, and started teaching in different middle, high schools, and a community college in my town.
I am always looking for new opportunities and challenges to grow, not only professionally, but also personally. Due to this, I found Participate Learning! First, I thought it wasn’t real. It was hard to believe it was true. Before applying, I contacted Yanela Ferrer (another Argentinian teacher already in the U.S.), and she shared her amazing experience with me, and she also encouraged me to apply. I did it, but without being confident about being selected among so many teachers around the world. Anyway, I applied, passed the first interview and as time went by all this dream started.
Finally, I received an email to schedule a personal interview in Buenos Aires. I still couldn’t believe it was happening! In December 2019, I passed the interview and met a lot of Participate Learning staff that I saw in the videos on the web. I also got the opportunity to meet the most amazing new teacher friends in the world! At that time, I started to think that there was a strong possibility for me and my family to be a part of this outstanding experience. The process began, I had to hand in documents and prepare for school for interviews.
The pandemic and the United We Teach community
Everything was going well until the pandemic. As a teacher, I had to pivot and prepare myself to adapt and adjust to the new reality in my schools and also to prepare myself to keep my hopes and expectations on the program.
Fortunately, I started attending live sessions from the United We Teach Community that helped me in numerous ways. On one hand, I had the opportunity to learn from teachers from different parts of the world and to share our experiences as regards being a teacher in COVID times. We shared tech tools, ideas and activities, and also feelings on this new scenario that I thought would last just a few weeks. On the other hand, it made me feel connected to my dream of being an ambassador teacher and helped me not to lose faith. It was hard to believe that I wouldn’t be able to travel for the 2020/2021 school year.
During that long wait, I got pregnant, and baby Roma was born. Now with a baby, I started thinking that I would have to leave this adventure behind for a while. However, my family and I decided to keep on believing it was possible! It was a long wait, but with all the support and encouragement from the Participate Learning family, my admission specialist Kelli Finch and my teacher friends from the United We Teach community, everything became easier. In fact, when I had the personal interview, the wonderful teachers from all over the country created an Argentinian WhatsApp group in which we support each other and welcome all new teachers that are new to the program. We encourage each other and our motto is to keep going in the belief that one day, that dream would come true for all of us.
A warm welcome to the U.S.
It is hard to describe a favorite moment since I have been here because I have many! But the most significant for me was at the airport when I met Michelle Macumber (Teacher Engagement, Participate Learning). It was as if we had known each other for ages because we had been in contact through a screen every Thursday for almost a year-and-a-half in the United We Teach Zoom calls. She was waiting for me and my family at the airport. We hugged and cried a lot and it was a wonderful moment because they were tears of joy! Besides, it was the moment we as a family had been longing for.
This moment at the airport was not only meaningful to me, but also to other teachers who wish to apply with their families. After seeing my photograph of our arrival in the Participate Learning media, a lot of teachers who have babies started asking me about traveling with a baby because they had thought it was not possible. I always tell them that this is an amazing opportunity for us, teachers, but also for all your family. As a family, you are used to working as a team, so in my case, my husband Carlos and my 10-year-old son Luca are amazing, and we all take care of baby Roma. Besides, a lot of friends I met through the program who are Participate Learning ambassador teachers become your family and they have helped us a lot to settle down, and provided emotional support.
Lessons worth sharing
My advice for the teachers waiting to begin this journey is to never give up, join a community to share ideas and feelings, and try to be in contact with teachers who are in the program as well, so as to start visualizing this experience. It is also a good idea to read stories about other ambassador teachers, so as to strongly believe that one day it might be you! Don’t be afraid to ask questions as I did once with Yanela.
Participate Learning’s commitment to uniting our world through global learning extends to all members of our community. To learn more about our application requirements and process, visit our website. For teachers interested in learning more about the United We Teach community, learn more here.