Enhancing education in China
Friday, March 1, 2013
Sarah Murray, 31, left her hometown in Hollis on Feb. 17, bound for China to serve as a university educator in English education.
Murray previously served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cambodia from 2007-09, where she taught English, study skills and personal hygiene to secondary school students.
“There are two main lessons from my time in Cambodia that I will take with me to China,” she said. “The first is my practical skill set: Teaching English as a foreign language. As a student in China in 2004, I had the opportunity to teach two English courses at the university where I studied. At that time, I was a novice and completely untrained. However, I found teaching to be extremely rewarding and was interested in continuing. The second lesson I will bring from Cambodia to China is more abstract – patience. I will be more comfortable living in a culture different from my own, but, more importantly, I will be comfortable working with non-concrete time frames. I will know that what needs to get done will get done. That is something that took me a lot of getting used to when I first moved to Asia.”
Murray’s work in China will help improve education for students in grades K-12, which China has acknowledged as a key component in the country’s development. Murray’s assignment is to increase the number of English-speaking professionals while enhancing vocational education, special education and higher education. Currently, China has a shortage of qualified English teachers.
The courses Murray will teach include oral English, writing, listening, speaking, reading comprehension, business English and tourism English. Murray’s work aims to stop the grammar-translation method being used and to incorporate new communicative teaching techniques.
During her previous Peace Corps assignment in the rural villages of Kompong Cham District of Cambodia, Murray also taught English as a foreign language.
Murray said her favorite memory of service in Cambodia was “… the many hours spent at Kor Monastery discussing Cambodian history, politics, language and culture with head monk, Brother Seun Sam.”
Murray is a 2000 graduate of Souhegan High School in Amherst and a 2005 graduate of Florida State University in Tallahassee, with a degree in international affairs. She then attended the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand, and received her post-graduate diploma in translation from Chinese to English in 2012.
President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps March 1, 1961. Historically, more than 200,000 Americans have served with the Peace Corps to promote a better understanding between Americans and the people of 139 host countries. Today, 8,655 volunteers are working with local communities in 76 host countries.
Peace Corps volunteers must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years of age. Peace Corps service is a 27-month commitment. For more information about the Peace Corps, visit www.peacecorps.gov.