UH Hilo Alum Selected For Prestigious Virtual English Language Teaching Fellowship

Sophia RomanicSophia Romanic; Courtesy photo

(Press Release) — The U.S. Department of State announced the selection of UH Hilo alumna Sophia Romanic for a virtual fellowship, engaging with English language learners and teachers online in Ukraine at Zaporizhzhya National University. Romanic is among the first to be selected for the Virtual English Language Fellow Program, a new program created for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Romanic graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Hilo in 2012 with her B.A. in Sociology and completed her undergraduate internship with the UH Hilo Center for Global Education and Exchange. Upon graduation, she spent a year teaching abroad through the Hungarian Ministry of Education at an international kindergarten and bilingual high school in Budapest, Hungary. This experience led Sophia to complete her M.A. in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) from Westcliff University while working for several years as the East Hawai’i Island School Based Case Manager and then Regional Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters. In the fall of 2019, she began her Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics with Hellenic American University in Athens, Greece and continued to work in distance education as an assistant professor with the Westcliff University College of Education.Romanic’s project in Ukraine will focus on working with the ZNU Foreign Languages Department introducing English courses for students majoring in all fields to make the graduates more competitive in the job market. She will be teaching communicative English and writing to undergraduate students, English for Academic Purposes to graduate students, conducting weekly speaking clubs focused on American culture, and participating in a regional training webinar for 700 in-service teachers and professors across Eurasia.

The English Language Fellow Program is the premier opportunity for experienced teachers of English to speakers of other languages (TESOL) to enact meaningful and sustainable changes in the way that English is taught abroad, and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) with funding provided by the U.S. government. Through projects developed by U.S. Embassies in more than 80 countries, fellows work with local teachers, students, and educational professionals to improve the quality of English language instruction offered at prestigious universities, other academic institutions, and cultural centers.

Since 1969, the English Language Fellow Program has sent thousands of TESOL scholars and educators abroad to promote English language learning, enhance English teaching capacity, and foster mutual understanding between the U.S. and other countries through cultural exchange.

Due to the global pandemic, in-person fellow assignments overseas are temporarily paused. The new Virtual English Language Fellow program was created to allow American TESOL professionals to continue to share their expertise internationally and to gain international professional experience even at a time when they are unable to travel. English Language Fellows are among the more than 50,000 individuals participating in the U.S. Department of State exchange programs each year. The Fellow Program is administered by the Center for Intercultural Education and Development at Georgetown University.

For more information about the English Language Fellow Program or the U.S. Department of State, e-mail ECA-Press@state.gov. To share other news about outstanding UH Hilo alumni, email uhhkk@hawaii.edu.