Connecting with Young Ukrainian Refugees [Austin Carwell TESOL ’22]

group picture of language teaching instructors
group picture of language teaching instructors
Group picture of Austin Carwell and his fellow language teaching instructors at the program.

Austin Carwell describes his experience teaching English in Klaipeda, Lithuania. He outlines the daily activities, the challenges of the program, and the further growth of professional skills.


This program was an intensive summer English program with students in class from 9 am to 4 pm. I was one of the Intermediate English morning teachers as I finally put what I have learned from my professors at MIIS into practice. Over the course of four weeks, my class and I covered various short stories and podcasts as we discussed larger questions of how our past has shaped us and where we are heading in the future.  

The majority of my students were recently displaced Ukrainians, who exhibited tremendous drive in the classroom despite all that is going on their lives.

This experience has also solidified my decision to go into TESOL as I met some truly amazing students. The majority of my students were recently displaced Ukrainians, who exhibited tremendous drive in the classroom despite all that is going on their lives. It was also personally rewarding to use my Russian language skills from Middlebury to clarify points or check in with them. Outside of classes, I was also involved in soccer and running club where I was able to get to know my students on a more personal level.  

For future TESOL students who are trying to do their summer practicum, I could not recommend this program more. There were several graduate students from other universities also teaching for their practicum, so there was a fostering environment where experienced teachers would share their ideas and insights. Plus Klaipeda is a beautiful city which most people will not have the opportunity to see. 

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