I don’t quite remember if it was at the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014 that I saw a call for proposals for a TESOL series edited by Andy Curtis entitled ELT in Context. I found the series idea interesting and decided to send a proposal on teaching English in binational centers in Brazil. I wasn’t sure I stood a chance, as I am not a well-known writer in ELT and I imagined that it would be a very competitive process.
A couple of months later, Andy Curtis contacted me, explaining that he had received over 60 proposals and needed to select 12 for the series. He asked me to provide some follow-up information on my proposal, and so I did. Soon after, I received the great news that my proposal had been accepted.
I was thrilled and scared at the same time. Those who know me are aware that I hold a very demanding administrative position, and since I do not work for a university as a researcher, my work time cannot be spent on this type of activity. Thus, I write during my very limited free time.
I decided to invite the former Casa Thomas Jefferson General Academic Coordinator and my mentor Katy Cox to write the book with me, as her perspective on what it is like to teach in a binational center is very important and she is a fantastic writer. More importantly, I would have someone to share the load with! Katy readily accepted my invitation and Andy agreed to include her as my co-author.
When I received the series template, indicating what each chapter should focus on and how long it should be, I realized that the editor wanted us to write about our specific language teaching organization (LTO), from a more personal level. I then concluded that writing about teaching in binational centers in general would not fit the series’ purpose and that we had to write about teaching at Casa Thomas Jefferson, while also providing relevant information about other BNCs.
Katy and I worked hard to write everything we found relevant within each chapter’s specific topic and word limit, making sure we explained to our audience what was so familiar to us in a clear and direct way. Andy was a fantastic editor and gave us extensive and always very constructive feedback. It was a highly enriching learning opportunity.
I can’t say it was easy to juggle my job and this writing task. I even had to give up attending the international Braz-TESOL Conference last year during a long holiday weekend in May to work on this project. I’m sure my daughters also resented all the times they invited me to go to the mall or to the movies on weekends and I had to decline. Nevertheless, I enjoyed doing this and am sure Katy did, too.
Now our book is out and we have finally received it in the mail. We are very happy about our product, though we can’t help feeling that so much has happened in our dynamic institution since we submitted our last draft back in July 2014 that the book is not completely updated anymore. I guess this happens to all authors!
We tried to provide an objective and accurate description of what our LTO is like and how it compares to other LTOs. Of course, we write from our own standpoint and experiences within the institution. We hope to have contributed to the series by providing our perspectives on a context that is not always so well known around the world.
The greatest lesson I have learned from this experience is that if we are connected and believe in our capacity, there are great chances out there for us to grow professionally and make significant contributions to our field. We had this wonderful opportunity because I saw the call for proposals and felt empowered to submit one.
Now I’m working on yet another project, also the result of a call for proposals. Stay tuned!