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Meet Spencer Seballos - REI Laos

Updated: Jul 19, 2019

Where can a heart for “building people to build nations” take you? For Spencer Seballos--all the way to Laos with a Fulbright teaching placement. After a short 6-week internship in 2015 through REI, Spencer decided to take a gap year from 2016-2017 before starting Medical school in Cleveland. Part of his motivation to return to Laos came from the opportunities his family has been given. “My grandparents immigrated to the US from the Philippines for their medical training, and I wish to repay these educational opportunities that they, and now I, have received through work in health care, medical education, and research in developing nations.”

Listening to the needs of the local teachers in the capital city of Vientiane, Spencer worked with the local REI team providing innovative English teaching techniques for the classrooms of Laotian medical students. With the perspective of sustainability beyond his one-year term, Spencer invested in the long-term teachers at the University of Health Sciences. “The local teachers at UHS requested that I assist them with in-classroom teaching with students—the need that they identified. With 120-140 students per year (and consequently, in each class), there is an acute need for English instructors.”

From English clubs, after-school review sessions, interactive games including visuals for both learning and testing, the partnership with local teachers was full of variety and laughter for those involved. Spencer learned how language learning is full of mistakes and taking risks, but the ability to step boldly into it can move you forward. “Being in this role of a learner, and in particular learning a language, gave me an enormous sense of humility in the classroom, since my students were in the same position as me. When crafting lessons, I thought about my own challenges in learning the Laotian language: what things helped a lot and what things were frustrating or less useful.”

Spencer has now returned to begin his own studies in medical school at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. All the best as he continues to “build people to build nations” in this next step of his journey!

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