Five SMU graduates tapped to teach English for French government

Five SMU graduates will teach English in France as part of a French government program.

Eiffel Tower in Paris France

Eiffel Tower in Paris FranceBy Denise Gee and Isaac Cotherman
SMU News

DALLAS (SMU) – Five SMU graduates have accepted French Government Teaching Assistant positions to teach English in France beginning this fall.

Alaa Al-Barghuthi, Melissa Burgess, Shelley Diefenbach, Carly Laywell and Christine Pearson applied for positions directly to the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. Assistantships are offered annually to 1,500 Americans to teach in public schools across metropolitan areas of France and in the overseas departments of French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion.

Candidates are selected based on proficiency in the French language, teaching experience and skills to promote cultural understanding between France and the United States.

Alaa Al-Barghuthi  will teach English in France Alaa Al-Barghuthi, a native of Plano, is a spring 2011 graduate who now holds Bachelor’s degrees in business administration and French. She will teach in Orleans-Tours in France’s Loire Valley. “It was a far-off fairytale to think I could do this,” she says. “Now, thanks to boundless support, I can live my dream.”
Melissa Burgess  will teach English in France Melissa Burgess, a native of Post Falls, Idaho, also just graduated and holds Bachelor’s degrees in violin performance and French. She will teach in Lille, France. “Now I have the opportunity of a lifetime to live abroad and share what I have learned with others,” she says.
Shelley Diefenbach  will teach English in France Shelley Diefenbach recently graduated from SMU’s Cox School of Business with a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and a minor in studio art. She will teach English to elementary school students in Dijon, France. The Newport Beach, Calif., native is looking forward to experiencing French language and culture. “I studied abroad in Paris with SMU last year, but this time will be different. I will be truly living and working in France,” she says. “I hope to become completely assimilated into their culture.”
Carly Laywell  will teach English in France Carly Laywell graduated from SMU two years ago with a Bachelor’s degree in international studies (with emphasis in Middle Eastern studies) and a minor in history. The Grapevine, Texas, native is a freelance interpreter/translator of Portuguese, French and Spanish. She will teach in Orleans-Tours, after which time she aims to serve as an interpreter for the U.S. government, the United Nations and International Monetary Fund. “I not only look forward to teaching but also learning from my students,” she says.
Christine Pearson will teach English in France Christine Pearson, a native of Dallas, Texas, recently graduated with majors in international studies, French and political science. She will travel to the Champagne region in northern France, where she will teach English at the Academy of Reims. She hopes eventually to serve as a foreign service officer for the U.S. Department of State. “This program is a great opportunity to be in a wonderful country while continuing to learn a beautiful language,” she says.

For more information on the Teaching Assistant Program in France and how to apply, please visit the program’s page at the French Cultural Services website.