Winnie Eng ’00
Although Winnie Eng had the wonderful experience of attending Chicago’s public schools, she never seriously considered being a teacher herself. She had actually wanted to be a dentist. Winnie liked the idea of providing dental care to those in need. But she also yearned to go abroad, to live among a different culture, and to get to know its people more deeply. Dental school, she mused, would take years of preparation and study, leaving little time to delve into another culture.
During college, Winnie heard about ELIC (English Language Institute/China). ELIC places English teachers into schools in Asia. This teaching opportunity would allow her to immerse herself in a culture while having a stable support system. Winnie liked the idea, so she signed up for the ELIC program. After a year abroad, she discovered that she really enjoyed teaching.
Growing up, Winnie’s family had taught her the value of school and learning. Her dad had always loved teaching her how to cook, her mom was a nursery school teacher and “perpetual learner,” and her siblings have always loved learning and exploring new things. She affirmed, “Passing knowledge to others is what I like to do.” After a year of teaching in China, Winnie decided to continue with her own education. Through ELIC and APU, she earned her Master of Arts in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Her additional two years of studies, done concurrently with teaching abroad, helped her gain a deeper connection with students. She was able to better determine their needs, address them, and see the results. Winnie said, “With TESOL, you can see visible results – when a student understands a concept, the use of a word, and can apply it, you see that you’re making a difference.”
Today, Winnie is continuing to make a difference working as an ESL instructor at the Pui Tak Center in Chicago’s Chinatown. She also serves as their Student Data Processing/Quality Assurance Specialist. The Pui Tak Center is a non-profit organization that offers adult ESL classes, tutoring, and many other new immigrant and community services. As Winnie describes it, “Pui Tak was started by the Chinese Christian Union Church to help immigrants adjust and function in their daily tasks.” Over 1,000 immigrant adults learn English at Pui Tak each year.
“Language helps us function in society,” Winnie explains, “and for immigrants who come over…they need to learn to buy things, to be taught skills so they can be useful in their own communities.”
Winnie believes that her M.A. in TESOL has helped equip her with the theory and practice of managing, organizing, and teaching her classes. “The TESOL program gave me a knowledge-base to understand concepts,” she says. What she values most about APU’s program is that her professors were solidly grounded and cross-culturally minded. Winnie says, “They were teachers who taught and challenged us to pursue the excellence that God desires for our lives in order to complete His work.”
She adds, “They were models of personable and caring people. I learned from my APU teachers that teaching is not just imparting knowledge – it’s being a role model who imparts family values and morals." Winnie hopes that as a teacher, she too can be used to make a positive difference in others’ lives. She said, “(The teachers) cared for their students and wanted them to grow.” Likewise, Winnie wants her students, this new generation of Americans, to grow and learn so they can become active, productive citizens.