October 1, 2017
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Grazzia María Mendoza Chirinos, HELTA Honduras TESOL, Tegucigalpa, Honduras and Ulrich Schrader, MEXTESOL, Mexico City, Mexico

Collaboration entails bringing people together to guarantee personal and professional growth, especially when it is in a specific geographic region. (Berry, Daughtrey, & Wieder 2009) TESOL Affiliates in the Central American and Caribbean Basin region have been collaborating for 23 years, enabling teachers and associations to create best practices and an enrichment of their learning and growth processes. Sharing, camaraderie and strong friendships have been the result as we have understood that we cannot be isolated, and that we need each other to evolve, learn and reflect about our daily teaching practice. (Costa and Kallick, 2008).

The MEXTESOL and HELTA Honduras TESOL experience has been one of mentorship and learning respectively. Two very different associations have come together to allow for mutual learning, with a high sense of respect for each other’s work and with the idea that there is always time and the opportunity to learn from each other.

We had the chance to deliver this presentation at the Affiliate Colloquium in Seattle 2017, allowing us to explain and give details on how Mexico and Honduras—however different in size, economic growth and population—still share the same challenges and opportunities when it comes to English teaching and teachers’ associations. The session considered how mentorship can benefit a new born association by providing pointers, experiences, the dos and the dont's, the opportunities for growth and in general, leading the way. It also described how an older association is then led into reflecting about its own processes, replicating what has worked in the new context and being able to witness the growth and consolidation of a new group over a relatively short period of time.

Collaboration between these two organizations has meant an outward and inward look to understand our strengths and how to empower each other. We agreed and realized that the path is not an easy one and that success is not always at the end of the path; there are many times when we stumbled and fell, but knew we could count on mentors and friends to see us through our challenges. To know that there is a group of teachers from different countries, ready to help you stand up and continue, to never give up and find strength when you feel it simply isn’t working, is priceless. This collaboration has meant having that helping hand while learning, having that effective advice at the right moment and even having the chance to show our concerns but being aware that someone else has gone through that before and succeeded. It is empowerment and it means walking the extra mile even when we feel we can’t walk anymore!

The complete title of the Affiliate Colloquium in Seattle was “Equal Partners—Equal Opportunities”. Perhaps surprisingly, we beg to differ with this underlying premise, although we understand and agree with the implied lofty end-meaning. If everybody is equal, not much learning can take place. It is precisely in “inequality” that both sides can gain from the other. It is not a matter of inferior-superior standing. I can learn from what you excel in and perhaps you can learn from what I am good at. And we can both learn from our individual and joint errors! We then “equalize” out, to some abstract extent. In the HELTA-Honduras / MEXTESOL relationship, MEXTESOL has benefitted by having to reexamine long-held assumptions about our organization and adapting them to the new realities which HELTA-Honduras’ present-day experiences have shed light on and prompted us to incorporate into our present and future strategic thinking. The collaboration has thus been fruitful for both associations.

HELTA Honduras TESOL thanks MEXTESOL, but specifically Ulrich Schrader who has been able to make a difference not only in the association in Honduras but in the Central American and Caribbean Basin Region as well! We surely hope to continue collaboration and mutual understanding and maintain our growth through the years!

Berry, B., Daughtrey, A. & Wieder, A. (2009, December). Collaboration: Closing the Effective Teaching Gap. Center for Teaching Equality, pp. 1-10

Costa, A., & Kallick, B. (2008). Learning through Reflection. In Costa, A. & Kallick, B. Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind. Alexandria: ASCD


Grazzia María Mendoza has an M.Ed. in International Education and an M.A. in TESOL. She has been teaching English for 24 years and has been a presenter internationally at TESOL International Association and other TESOL affiliates since 2007. She is the current Chair of the EFLIS and served from 2012-2015 as Chair of the International Participation Award for the Awards Committee. She has reviewed proposals for TESOL since 2009 and is HELTA Honduras TESOL’s current President and is the President of the Regional TESOL Group for Central America and the Caribbean for the 2016-2018 period.

Ulrich Schrader is the academic consultant for MEXTESOL and the senior advisor to the Central American and Caribbean Basin Regional Group.



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October 2017