Waunakee High School graduate Nicholas Stamm recently returned from a two-year deployment in the Philippines. The Peace Corps volunteer spent 24 months improving public education.
Stamm said his primary focus was university-level English instruction.
“I worked with a public university,” Stamm said. “And it was all about enhancing their English-language learning programs there at the school. I helped conduct seminars, trainings, any kind of programs I thought would be useful to them.”
Stamm spent his entire two years of service at Don Mariano Marcos Memorial State University, a college in the city of Bacnotan. He would be the only Peace Corps volunteer to serve there.
“The university has a northern, middle and southern campus,” Stamm said. “I was on the north campus. It all kind of hooked together. But for the most part, I was on the northern campus. There were some mixed events that went on, but I was pretty much by myself at university.”
However, he would not be alone in his work.
Throughout his employment, Stamm was mentored by a professor in the English department who could answer any questions and provide guidance inside the classroom.
“They like to do co-teaching,” Stamm said. “So essentially, we pair ourselves with teachers or professors who are already there. Then we sit in with their class and help them prepare materials, or anything that we can provide help with.”
He would receive support from the Filipino government as well.
“The first three months you’re there,” Stamm said, “it’s kind of like a big training camp. First, they had us work with the Department of Education. They had teachers and trainers come in, and we did practice teaching. Then they taught us about the education system in the Philippines.”
Stamm said although the English language is spoken by a majority of educated residents, students studying it as their major are better served by working alongside a native speaker.
“English is already used quite a bit in the Philippines,” Stamm said, “but they really crave for native speakers to help with pronunciation and spelling – things like that. It’s really important and crucial for them to have that, especially for kids who want to be English majors.”
Stamm said his goal was to make a lasting contribution to the university.
“The whole idea of Peace Corps is about sustainability,” Stamm said, “what you can leave there for them to use 10 years after you’re gone. So it wasn’t about me teaching a class and leaving. It was transferring knowledge, experiences, ideas and programs.”
Prior to his departure, Stamm implemented an English reading program he hopes will assist future students at the university.
As long as he left a positive mark, Stamm said, he’d be happy.
“I just provided insight and research wherever I could,” Stamm said, “as well as other resources I had access to. So I was just helping in any way that I could.”
Stamm said his career plans include a job with the federal government or some kind of nonprofit.