Alumni Spotlight: Matt Beaty


Matt is a freelance filmmaker in Atlanta, Georgia, but in between projects he travels and volunteers abroad. Matt graduated from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 2011, and in 2015, Matt earned his Master of Arts from Georgia State University.

Why did you choose this program?

Angloville is a comprehensive and well-planned program focusing on English teaching in Central and Eastern European nations. In addition to the program being incredibly affordable, Angloville also provides all of its participants the opportunity to receive a TEFL certification. This is in turn excellent for those volunteers who would like to capitalize on both their skills and their passions.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

Angloville guarantees full immersion in their programs, and all conversations are guided by prompts handed out by the coordinators. A volunteer always has something to do.

However, Angloville does NOT promise too much in terms of holiday or relaxation. A program week demands a lot of energy, and a volunteer must make his or her own time to decompress. There will not be enough time during the weekend between programs to see and do everything in the base cities. Do plan some breaks, and do plan some trips.

I suggest having one gap week to not only treat yourself, but also be a tourist! I feel like a mom saying this, but remember to have FUN!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Angloville does a near-seamless job planning the week, but a volunteer is completely on their own in regards to recreation. Each venue has its own unique quirks, so try to get a feel for everything within the first day or two. Be curious: poke around and see what facilities and activities are available to you, especially the free ones. See what is sold in the lobby or if there is a grocery store nearby. Explore the exterior grounds. Get the drink menu to gauge the costs of your night. If you are like me and your extroversion has limits, then prepare for quiet time leisure, too. Pack a Bluetooth speaker for music, a book, or maybe download some podcasts in advance.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Adult programs are Sunday to Friday, and family and youth programs are from Sunday to Saturday. Yes, that means that there is less than 24 hours between programs if a recruiter schedules you in a family or youth-centered program. Choose your programs wisely.

In Angloville, a volunteer starts every day with breakfast at 900, and then proceeds to talk to European participants for four hours before lunch. Each hour has a promised ten-minute break, which I typically used for coffee, water, and the toilet. After lunch, there is an extended break until 1630. The next three hours are spent in speaking sessions, and then at 1930 there is dinner. For me, this is finally when I had my first beer, wine, or cocktail. Lastly, a group game or activity takes you until 2130.

Like my fellow filmmakers, I used military time for a reason. You may have caught why: a program day is a little over a twelve-hour day, with breaks and meals included in that time. If you are like me and bring your work from home with you everywhere, then plan your day wisely!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

This may sound a bit strange, but my biggest fear was how I would act as a mentor in a non-professional environment. I have been an instructor of journalism for native speakers and a teacher of English for non-native speakers, so I am used to being the authority not only at my work but also in classroom settings. Angloville is not work, and Angloville is not a classroom; it is a strange hybrid in between which Anglovillians like to call "guided conversation". I somehow did not let that soak into my mind until the end of the first week.

However, especially during my second and third weeks of Angloville, I stopped using the given modules, and I was able to guide the conversations to best fit the participants' needs. Most of the European participants are looking to improve their English speech in some specific way, so vocabulary pertinent to their fields or their social environments is important. I cannot tell you the number of participants I had to teach the word "jargon"!

What should you bring to Angloville that you would not normally think of?

The answer is simple: buy snacks before you start a program week, ESPECIALLY fruits, veggies, and nuts. Angloville promises you all three meals, and depending on the venue, these can be really great or very iffy. I did have one meal that made me too sick for the session after a break. Snacks are essential for those days you have a meal with small portion sizes or questionable quality. Instead, bring your own fruits, veggies, and nuts for vitamins and FIBER. I promise that you will see grown adults compete over the greens at breakfast, and they will not leave anything behind for you!