Fleming Panamá Bilingüe participant uses English skills to make a difference

Martin Gedeon Palacio Rivera, pictured in Panama at the school where he teaches.

Martin Gedeon Palacio Rivera never imagined he would have the opportunity to study abroad. But thanks to Panamá Bilingüe, Martin was able to study English in Canada and have the experience of a lifetime at Fleming College.

“I never imagined I would get to study abroad because I come from a humble family that doesn’t have money for me to study abroad. I decided to keep studying hard to get a scholarship to keep learning,” said Martin, who did receive a scholarship to study English through Panamá Bilingüe. “I never imagined that my experience at Fleming College would change my life.”

Panamá Bilingüe is an education program in Panama that promotes English language learning to create more opportunities and increase economic growth. The goal is to make Panama a bilingual country.

Martin took the Teaching Training Program through Panamá Bilingüe, where he studied English and did teacher training at Fleming College for 16 weeks (eight weeks of English language learning and eight weeks of teacher training). Martin said English is his third language and he took this program in 2016 to develop his English skills and to train to teach English in Panama.

“My impression of Canada when I arrived was incredible, especially the education, culture, hospitality, security and the environment. These are completely different from my country,” said Martin. “The most important thing for me to learn about was teaching style, methodology techniques and strategies that Canadian teachers use to interact with students.”

Martin describes his experience at Fleming as amazing, wonderful, incredible, joyful and unforgettable. The welcoming and friendly environment on campus made it feel like home.

“I’m glad I studied at Fleming College,” he said. “The host family members I got were so kind and gave me a lot of support. The College staff members were so helpful; they worked hard with us during the 16 weeks we were at Fleming College.”

When he returned to Panama, Martin was hired to teach English at Los Hatillos Elementary School and later moved to another elementary school called Cañazas Arriba, which is where he teaches now. Martin said he is using the methodologies, strategies and techniques taught to him at Fleming College in his classroom, and shares the information with other teachers at his workplace.

Last June, Martin put his English skills to use volunteering at Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. For three months, Martin was one of ten teachers who volunteered to teach children in the camp.

“I really loved and enjoyed it. I shared this experience with a friendly and wonderful group of Arabic people,” he said.

Martin said he highly recommends Fleming College to others interested in learning English because of Fleming’s friendly and welcoming environment.

“Choose Fleming College because you will find friendly people around you,” he said. “They will help you and it doesn’t matter where you come from, they will make you feel like you are at home.”