International Teachers in the USA Find Fun, Support at EPI Events
Educational Partners International (EPI) has been hosting social events for program members in Florida. Bringing together teachers from six separate counties so far, the events provide a chance for the program members to meet with one another as well as with EPI staff. Casual and fun, the get-togethers encourage educators to share a laugh and a meal, to compare experiences, and exchange with each other about teaching in the USA and adjusting to life outside of the classroom. They represent just one more way in which EPI supports program members after they have arrived here and begun teaching.
EPI staff member Faye Ali organizes the meetups, and she graciously agreed to answer our questions about them.
How did these teacher socials start?
The teacher socials began as a way to reconnect with the teachers after only being together during orientation, when they first entered the country. Not only did it allow us time to create a professional development training opportunity with the teachers, but it provided us the opportunity to get to know the teachers while socializing. This year, the socials focused more on celebrating their hard work and accomplishments. That’s because we now have the EPI Connect series, which offers program members professional development resources for free online through Zoom sessions with other members.
Could you give us an idea of what the meetups are like?
Each meetup followed the same format this year. They were held at restaurants, and EPI ordered dinner for everyone. We welcomed all and thanked them for joining us, then we enjoyed a meal and lively conversation together. Afterward, the teachers participated in a fun activity, where they could win prizes. Finally, we gave words of encouragement and wished everyone a happy holiday. Lots of pictures were taken with excited and happy teachers!
How many counties participated?
This year, we had six counties participate in the event: Palm Beach, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Hillsborough, and Pinellas.
Are these recurring social events?
Currently, the events are held annually, but we are considering creating more opportunities to connect with teachers.
How many of them have participated?
We had approximately 110 teachers attend the gatherings, with another 60 to 70 family members joining them.
What countries were represented at the events?
There were so many! From the Caribbean, there were teachers from the Bahamas and Jamaica. Central American program members included people from Costa Rica and Honduras. South America was represented by teachers from Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, and Peru. Our African members in attendance were from Ghana and Zimbabwe. Other countries at the gatherings included Canada, the Philippines, and Spain.
Thank you, Faye, for taking time out of your workday to answer our questions, and thank you for making these events happen! And we extend our appreciation to all of the members who participated in the get-togethers, as well. We look forward to seeing some of you – as well as new teachers – again next year!