‘English Can Open Doors for Me’

English-language students present at the Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano in Chepen, Peru, December 2012. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

About the Author: Kay Webb Mayfield is the Director of the Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs.

As the school year draws to a close in South America, hundreds of students are celebrating completion of their two-year English Access program, and recognizing how much Access has done for them beyond developing proficiency in a new language. During a visit last week, I had the chance to visit some of these students in Peru and Paraguay. They expressed themselves with confidence when we spoke English together, and reflected thoughtfully on their experience in essays on “What English Access Means to Me.”

At the Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano in the northwest Peruvian city of Chepen, the Access graduates-to-be talk knowledgeably about important figures in U.S. history such as Benjamin Franklin (for whom the Institute’s school is named), celebrate U.S. holidays, develop an awareness of civic responsibility, and dream about their future. The Centro Cultural Paraguayo… more »