Staff Profile – Amy Nunamaker – Director, English for Academic Purposes

Amy NunamakerAs the director of the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program at SDSU’s American Language Institute, Amy Nunamaker often leans on her own experiences of having studied abroad in France as a college student.

“It had a direct impact on what I do now,” she said. “Pretty much every day, I think back to my experience in France as I work with the students here.”

During her 3 ½ months while based in Paris, she traveled throughout France. That experience taught her to relate to current ALI students who are studying abroad and finding out what it’s like to live in a different culture while speaking a non-native language.

A second life experience also helps Nunamaker in her current job. She lived two years (2001-03) in Estonia with her husband, Ted, the commanding officer in the U.S. Navy.

Before living in Estonia, she spent 10 months studying alongside her husband at the State Department’s Foreign Service Institute learning to speak Estonian.

“It was really useful,” she said. “A lot of people in Estonia spoke a little English … and I mean a little English. I had my first daughter there. It was very helpful to be able to speak the language when we went to the doctor.”

While in Estonia, her family was living in a country that was just ten years removed from being under the rule of the USSR (Soviet Union), which collapsed in 1991. To show how quickly the Estonians advanced, they were already using cell phones for banking by the early 2000s (banks did not issues checks).

The family returned to San Diego by way of Rhode Island, where her second daughter was born. With two young daughters at home, Nunamaker was a stay-at-home mom upon her return to San Diego.

She completed the docent training program at the Timken Museum in Balboa Park in 2009 and volunteered as a docent for about a year. (She had studied art history at Hollins University in Roanoke, Va. before adding French as a second major following her study abroad experience.)

In late 2009, she attended the ALI’s TESL/TEFL Certificate program that prepares novice instructors to successfully live and teach English overseas. She then became a facilitator in the EAP and Intensive English for Communication (IEC) program, as well as being a teacher and advisor.

Two years ago, she moved into her current position as director.

“I really enjoy helping students achieve their educational goals,” she said. “It makes me think back to how much studying abroad helped my education and personal growth.”

Her daughters – Julia, 13, and Grace, 11 – are also into the multi-culture experience as they attend an international baccalaureate school.

“I learn a lot from our students about their cultures and share the information with my kids,” Nunamaker said. “They appreciate learning more about the world through what I share about our students.”