Student Roberto Echeverria: Learning, Gratitude, Joy

Roberto Echeverria, MAT 40

Roberto Echeverria, MAT 40

As happens by design, students in MAT learn deeply about themselves and the world, as well as the teaching of English.  An outcome of this kind of learning is that profound relationships are formed.  Significant and satisfying learning is conducted among fellow students who become fast friends.  This means professional colleagues around the world can encourage and support (and hire!) each other for many years after leaving campus.

In this unsolicited letter, Roberto Echeverria, a Fulbright scholar from Panama who holds the SIT TESOL Certificate, demonstrates sentiments often felt by MATs.  Soon to depart for his internship teaching adult refugees in Boston, he connects his feelings for other students with his professional development.  A Christian, he studies the teaching of English with people of many faith traditions from around the world which, he notes, enriches his experience.  Roberto and his classmates reconvene at SIT in March. Dear MAT 40s:

I am writing this message to express my gratitude for the time you have shared with me this semester.  I really appreciate your thoughts, ideas, comments and patience.  I have had a wonderful experience with all of you here in one of the most prestigious TESOL programs in the world.  I am very proud to be a MAT and to be part of this amazing group of people.

It is not common to study in diversity and with knowledge at the same time as I have been studying here.  I look around during my class time and I see Kachru’s three circles*, a theory that I was required to study back home, represented in you guys and that makes me feel proud and fortunate.

I appreciate every minute that I’ve shared with polyglots, tri-linguals, bilinguals; people with experience in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Asia; comedians, performers, philosophers, dancers, historians, writers yoga teachers; moms, dads, sons, and daughters.

I appreciate this MAT program with its people of incredible qualities and valuable characteristics for me:

  • an IT guy who can read Russian
  • a blond who can write in Japanese
  • a woman who has given me the opportunity to learn my first word in Korean
  • a woman who speaks German
  • another one who showed me the value, importance and determination of a teacher in a community in one of the most beautiful islands of the world
  • a Chinese gentleman who always offered me a smile every morning in the International Center dining room (he does not know how important this smile was for my affective filter every morning)
  • knowledgeable South Africans that I would love to imitate in my future as a teacher
  • an American woman who taught me my first drinking game
  • a guy who can read ancient Greek and Latin
  • a woman who cooks the best Somali cuisine in Vermont

The most important thing is that God has given me the chance to have listeners in my group.  People with different points of view, ideas and beliefs, but also with the precious gift of this input skill, that I recognize I am still training.

We are the most important source of information for our linguistic future.  I just want to say thank you to all of you. All the most beautiful and precious things will happen in the life of each of the MAT 40s during our internships, because our jobs are social, and I am convinced that social jobs can change lives!!!

Please, I will email you during my internship if I need any help, and I am sure that I will receive replies, because in our program we still give help, and if you consider that I can help you in something don’t hesitate to email me.

Written the day of the Immaculate Conception.

Truly and fondly yours,


* A reference to the concept developed by Braj Kachru (1992), the Kashmiri socio-linguist.  Kachru envisions English use in the world in three concentric circles.  These represent an Inner Circle (350 million native speakers), an Outer Circle (380 million users of English as a second language), and an Expanding Circle (1 billion users of English as a foreign language).


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