Building a Network of Givers: My experience with the Global Language Network

My name is Antone Neugass and I have had the pleasure of serving as GLN’s program coordinator over the past year.  I came to GLN because I truly believe in our mission of using language as a tool to help fix the world.  Following my return from an extended time living and working abroad, I started at GLN looking for a new way to challenge myself and explore a possible career transition to the field of education.  I found both of these and much more during my time as program coordinator for GLN.  

One of the most amazing things about working at GLN is the opportunity to interact with so many passionate, motivated, and talented individuals who all share a common love for learning about different languages and cultures.  But there is much more to GLN than just language and culture.  We like to say that GLN is “a network of givers, for givers, by givers.”  Based on my observations during my time with the organization, I’ve found this statement to consistently ring true.  One of GLN’s greatest strengths is the sense of volunteerism and leadership it fosters among the thousands of students, teachers, volunteers, and partners it serves every day.  It starts with our amazingly dedicated and enthusiastic corps of all-volunteer teachers and extends to the hundreds of organizational volunteers that staff our offices, support our teachers, and strengthen our programs.  Completing the cycle of giving are the innumerable positive and constructive ways in which GLN students are applying their language and cross-cultural communication skills to better our communities and our planet.  The understanding that so many people are giving their time, energy, and attention to help grow our organization has made my job of supporting their work a fulfilling and gratifying experience.    

Working at GLN has also provided me with a crash course in entrepreneurship and helped me further develop my leadership and managerial skills.  GLN has been so successful because it continues to maintain the ethos of a start-up company.  Good ideas trump hierarchy and delivering value to our community is at the center of everything we do.  During my time here, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to almost every aspect of running a dynamic and innovative non-profit.  On any given day, I may be (sometimes simultaneously) communicating with our diverse constituency, developing our outreach and marketing strategy, producing promotional videos, supervising a team of fellows and interns, managing our IT infrastructure, creating social media content, and organizing a new teacher training.  At GLN, staff and volunteers are given substantial latitude to develop and take the lead on substantive projects that help advance both organizational and professional objectives.  At the same time, a healthy dose of responsibility is entrusted to many of our volunteers, which makes for an engaged, committed, and collaborative work environment.  I’ve been amazed by how much we have been able to achieve even within my short tenure.

Serving as GLN’s program coordinator hasn’t been all roses.  Coordinating the preferences, schedules, and logistics of more than 100 teachers, partners, and organizational volunteers each semester is not for the faint of heart.  And responding to the thousands of emails we receive during our registration periods can be overwhelming at times.  But in the end, the many positive and supportive comments we receive from across our diverse network makes the job worthwhile.  

As for me, my time at GLN helped confirm that my next career move is right on target – this July I’ll be starting a teaching fellowship with the Center for Inspired Teaching.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the students, teachers, partners, volunteers, and staff who helped make my time at GLN a rewarding and memorable one.  And sometime soon, if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll find my way into a Spanish Frequent Flyer lottery class and have the pleasure of enjoying the GLN experience for myself.

Cheers, hasta pronto, et à bientôt!

Antone  

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