Faces of CNM: David Williams

David recently returned from 10 months in Argentina where he trained English teachers and helped build international cultural bridges
March 03, 2020

If there are two things David Williams—a full-time faculty member in CNM’s School of Adult & General Education—misses from his time in Argentina, it’s the people and the steak.

He spent most of 2019 in San Miguel de Tucumán (north Argentina) helping English teachers improve their skills and better understand the culture of the United States. As part of a prestigious fellowship run by the U.S. Department of State, he built lasting connections with those teachers and the local community and also developed a taste for the thick, fresh, and delicious beef that was served almost everywhere he ate.

“The entire experience was incredible,” he says. “I’m glad to be home, but I already miss the travel, my friends, and the food.”

In San Miguel de Tucumán, David worked mostly with teachers who already knew English well but had not traveled to the United States or met anyone from this country. His job was to help them with their pedagogy but also answer any questions they had about our culture.

“It was actually an advantage that I was from New Mexico,” he said. “New Mexican food and culture are not what many people think of when they think of the United States, so it helped break down barriers. We’re not just hamburgers and French fries. Conversely, it was great to be in San Miguel de Tucumán because that was a unique part of Argentina.”

In Argentina, David became what he refers to as a “primary source." Instead of trying to understand the United States’ culture through movies and music, the instructors he worked with were able to meet a real person and ask more detailed questions.

David found that his time as a SAGE instructor at CNM prepared him well for the program. He already knew how to meet a diversity of students at a variety of levels, so he was able to help the Argentinian instructors even if they came in with varying questions and skill sets.

Applying for the fellowship was a lot of work, and less than one-third of the applicants were selected for the world-wide program. To ensure he made the most of his time outside of his regular instruction, David helped his local center write grants (one of which helped send two local students to a NASA camp) and gave pedagogy presentations across Argentina and once in Brazil.

Of course, it was also nice to return to New Mexico. David says he missed his family, friends, the food here, and his Chihuahua named Andy. He jumped right back into work at CNM in January and is already teaching a full load.     

“It’s nice to be home,” he says.