Alumni Spotlight: Don Wallace


Don is a career educator currently serving as the President of Palo Verde Community College in Blythe, California. Don has immediate plans to teach English to the local farmworkers in his area as an outreach of his college, and after retirement, to teach English to underprivileged children and adults in remote villages of Mexico where this is no access to English classes.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because, of all the institutes that I reached out to, Maximo Nivel was the most responsive and provided me with excellent customer service and follow up. I was assigned a person who took charge of my application process and made sure that everything I needed was taken care of and that all my questions were answered.

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

Because getting my TEFL certification was on my list of things to do before I retire, I originally planned to pay for everything myself. Fortunately for me, my college asked me to teach ESL classes to our local farmworkers starting this fall, and they agreed to pay for the program costs, fees, and books. I ended up paying for my travel expenses, lodging, and meals.

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

I was well informed of all the aspects of the program, so I was not blindsided by hardly anything. However, I did underestimate how intensive the program would be. Of course, a program that qualifies for university level credits should be intensive. I found myself putting in much more work that I had anticipated to get all the requirements of the program done. In the end, it was well worth the effort and I learned techniques that I never could have imagined that will transform the way I teach ESL.

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

The classes are all-day classes, and then there is homework everyday. The first two weeks, we had Mondays free to get caught up with our assignments and to take a little breather. The last two weeks, there is no stopping all the way to the finish line. But, as the old saying goes, anything worth having is worth working for. And this was definitely worth all the effort and dedication it took to complete and to receive the TEFL certification that is recognized throughout the world.

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

Because I came to the program fully employed, and returned to my job afterwards, this was not a part of my experience. Even though I am planning to go abroad after retirement to teach English in Mexico, I have traveled through Mexico for the past 20 years and I have already made my cultural adjustment for that transition in my life's journey.

What was the most rewarding part of your time in the TEFL program with Maximo Nivel?

Although there were many rewarding things, I think the most rewarding was getting to know a group of like-minded people who were all very bright and very passionate about what we were all doing together. I was by far older than the average student, and I was constantly amazed at how incredibly intelligent, poised and graceful the younger people in the group were. But, it makes sense that people who choose to teach are exactly those kinds of people.