Before he joined Santa Fe Public Schools, Gary Bass taught English in China, Syria and Vietnam. His students at El Camino Real Academy are aware of his world travels and prone to inquiring about motorbike traffic in Asia or the sounds of a foreign language.
“If they ask me to say something in Chinese, they laugh the way people laugh at things they don’t understand,” Bass said. “They don’t get it that people on the other side of the world are thinking the same thing when they hear their language, that we’re all just people trying to get by.”
Next month, Bass will take a one-month leave from his classroom to train English teachers at a K-12 school in Kampot, Cambodia, thanks to a scholarship from the Fulbright Program, an international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. State Department. Beyond helping Cambodian teachers explain the intricacies of English tenses or subject-verb agreement, Bass said he hopes the experience helps him broaden the world view of his students back home in New Mexico.