Balsamo Asian Scholar

Mary L. Burkitt, JALT2009 Balsamo Asian Scholar Liaison and Four Corners Tour Program Chair


Each year, JALT invites a scholar from Asia to participate in its international conference on language teaching and learning. Bill Balsamo, the former president of Himeji JALT, as well as the person instrumental in forming the Teachers Helping Teachers group (now a JALT SIG), donated quite a bit of his time, energy, and resources to helping colleagues in South Asian countries who did not have the same access to resources as teachers in countries like Japan. Bill passed away in April of 2008, and the Asian Scholar position was renamed in his honor.

Amihan April Mella-Alcazar of the Philippines has been named as the 2009 Balsamo Asian Scholar. At the time of his death, Bill was working with her to plan THT events in the Philippines for this year. As a lawyer, teacher, and NGO worker, April has been active in government, research, teaching, and development work in the Philippines, and has advocated for better English language teaching in the Philippines through seminars held in August 2008 and February 2009 with the Department of Education and THT (Teachers Helping Teachers).

Prior to that, she won government scholarships to study in both Japan and Germany, graduating from Tohoku University with MBA and PhD degrees. As a student of languages, April’s native tongue is Tagalog, and she is fluent in English and Japanese, as well as having proficiency in German, Spanish, and French. Her conference topic will be “The functional literacy theory and the contextual learning theory as applied to English language learning”.

April will be arriving in Japan pre-conference to take part in the Four Corners Tour, visiting various chapters and giving presentations in Okayama, Hiroshima, Nagasaki,

and Kitakyushu before arriving at the conference venue in Shizuoka. Post-conference, she has been invited to speak at her alma mater, Tohoku University, in the Graduate School of International Cultural Studies. However, before she returns to the Philippines on 30 November, she will probably squeeze in a few more chapter visits, specifically Kobe and Himeji, with others to be confirmed.

If you’re planning on attending the conference, be sure to attend April’s presentation or, if unable to come to Shizuoka on 21-23 November, catch one of her presentations during the chapter visits. The Balsamo Asian Scholar and Four Corners Tour speakers are fully funded by donations from participating and other chapters. So, at this time, a big thank you to Tokyo and Nagasaki Chapters for their generous donations to the 2009 Balsamo Asian Scholar and Four CornersTour!

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