Ms. Theresa Cohen an ESOL teacher from Montogomery Blair is teaching in the Czech Republic this school year.
|Mr. Richard Vodicka from the Czech Republic is teaching at Montogomery Blair this school year.|
This year two teachers from different countries, Ms. Theresa Cohen and Mr. Richard Vodicka, have traded their lives. Ms. Cohen, an ESOL teacher at Blair is now teaching English in the Czech Republic. Mr. Vodicka, an English teacher in the Czech Republic is now teaching ESOL at Blair. Ms. Cohen has Mr. Vodicka's job, is living in Mr. Vodicka's house, and is riding his bike. Mr. Vodicka now has Ms. Cohen's job, is living in Ms. Cohen's apartment, and is driving her car. They are part of a program called the Fulbright Teacher Exchange.Ms. Cohen Theresa who has been teaching ESOL for eight years, is now teaching English conversation to Czech students at the specialized school for artists where Mr. Vodicka taught.
According to Ms. Cohen, the system in the Czech Republic is different from the U.S.A. "Czech secondary schools are divided into three areas, vocational, specialized and general," she said. But this is not causing a problem for her. Her problem is with the Czech language. "The language is extremely hard to pronounce," she said.
Mr. Richard Vodicka came from Uhershe Hradiste, in the southeastern part of the Czech Republic. He taught English and art history in the Czech Republic for four years. He is teaching ESOL level 1 at Blair, the same courses that Ms. Cohen taught. He really enjoys his job and says he is learning something new everyday. Things are full of the unexpected. "It was very difficult at the beginning," he said. "Also the school is enormous and I don’t know what will be happening next.” He believes this is good for him. “It will help me to become a better teacher,” he said.
Mr. Vodicka misses his friends the most, but not his family that much because his wife and his three-year-old daughter are here with him. “If my wife and my daughter were not here, it could be more difficult,” he said.
For Ms. Cohen to become a Fulbright exchange teacher did not take that long. “I filled out my application in October, 2003, I had an interview in November, 2003, and I was notified in January 2004 that I was accepted,” she said. Soon after that she was told that she would be going to the Czech Republic for one year.
Ms. Cohen was interested in the Fulbright program because she wanted to explore educational systems in another country. “I wanted to live in Europe for a year to see how the people live and to learn about their educational system and methods of teaching English,” she said. Now, even though the language is extremely hard to pronounce, she said that her Czech students are teaching her their language.
Mr. Vodicka applied in November, 2003, but he thinks the process had a lot of paperwork. “I filled out my application, then, did the interview, and I had to take the English test,” he said. The English test was to see how good his English skills were. Later he found out that he was accepted. “I was told to come to the U.S.A, to Montgomery Blair High School.” But things were still tough for him. “I had to go online and search how big is the school and what is it like,” Mr. Vodicka said.
Fulbright exchange teaching is a very unique program for those teachers who are interested traveling, want to know more about students in other countries, and learn different systems.