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A field trip for Fields

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Teacher travels to DC for ambassador program, much more

By Jesef Williams

Crystal Fields’ recent trip to Washington, D.C., was more eventful than she thought it would be.

Fields, the lead ESOL (English as a Second or Other Language) teacher for Lancaster County School District, visited the nation’s capital for two reasons June 22 through June 27.

She was there to wrap up an ambassador program – a program in which she spent two weeks in Azerbaijan (a country located between Russia and Iran) in April. She taught and shared teaching practices with fellow educators. The opportunity was provided through the Teaching Excellence and Achievement (TEA) U.S. teacher exchange program.

In Washington, she had to create a portfolio and present a lesson plan that she would use back in Lancaster to teach students about Azerbaijan, which is located at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

During that trip, she used Skype technology, which enabled Azerbaijani children to see and speak with students back in Lancaster.

“The world has become a smaller place,” Fields said. “Any relationships we can foster will plant seeds for the future.”

Fields said she is still shocked that she was chosen for the fellowship.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.

While in the nation’s capital, Fields met with the national Teachers of English Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) group on its Advocacy Day, which was June 23.

Fields and about 30 other teachers from across the county met with their respective federal lawmakers to discuss issues facing non-English speaking students.

That day, Fields visited the offices of Sens. Lindsay Graham and Jim DeMint and Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, and Sens. Richard Burr and Kay Hagan of North Carolina.

“I was nervous at first,” Fields said. “That was a big deal.”

Soaking in Washington

During the trip, Wilson invited Fields and her colleagues to an event remembering the 60th anniversary of the Korean War.

At the Korean War Memorial, each nation of the United Nations during the Korean War had sent a flower arrangement. Fields said it was moving, as was the changing of the guards.

She said that event was special to her, especially since she works with non-English speaking students.

“Although I wasn’t in Hollywood, I certainly recognized the names of many of the speakers, including Arlen Specter, Harry Reid, Mitch McConnell and, of course, Nancy Pelosi,” she said.

Fields said there are so many things to do in Washington. And while she was there, she was welcomed at all the offices she visited.

“It was already going to be a special time going to D.C., but it turned out to be so much more,” Fields said. “Sometimes you are in the right place at the right time.”

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152