TIRF Trustee Ana Sylvia Ramirez at the 2016 ABLA Conference
TIRF Trustee Ana Sylvia    Ramirez at the 2016 ABLA Conference

Editor’s note: In this piece, Mr. Hector Alvarado, Academic Unit Director at IGA, shares information about the ABLA conference, which took place last month in the US.

The Association of the Bi-National Centers in Latin America (ABLA) is formed by centers which primarily focus on English language teaching, but also offer many other benefits to the local communities in which they work. These centers were created by the US government in the 1940s. However, they have become independent entities whose missions continue to focus on the dissemination of American culture and the teaching of the English language.

Every two years, the Bi-National Centers convene a conference that allows the attendees to connect with one another and share their centers’ best practices. This year, the convention was organized by Instituto Mexicano Norteamericano de Relaciones Culturales de Nuevo León. The ABLA conference took place in Houston, Texas, from August 16 to 19, 2016. The convention theme was “21st-Century Challenges.” There was great participation from Bi-National Center representatives, such as CEOs, librarians, academic directors, and others.

There were over 60 presentations throughout the three-day conference. These talks featured very diverse topics, ranging from libraries’ best practices at the Bi-National Centers, to the many different professionalization plans the centers have created for their teachers.

This year, TIRF Trustee Ana Sylvia Ramirez, who is also CEO at Instituto Guatemalteco Americano (IGA), participated in the conference. She shared information about a successful project that IGA has been conducting for the last few years – the MUNIJOVEN Project. This activity features collaboration between IGA, the Municipality of Guatemala City, and the European Union. The project’s aim is to provide access to English language learning to at-risk youth, who, at the end of the program, are able to obtain jobs (over 80% employability rate) through the use of English.

Many congratulations to all of our colleagues who helped to organize the ABLA conference!