Dan Zhao

"I especially appreciated how differences can be embraced at SFU. What could attract an international student more than welcoming and valuing their differences?"

My name is Dan Zhao. I was an English teacher in China before I pursued my M.Ed. degree in the international Teaching English as a Foreign/Second Language (TEFSL) program. Currently, I’m working as the Cultural Assistant for the International M.Ed. TEFSL program helping international graduate students adapt to their life in Canada culturally and academically. I am also teaching English and Chinese at private language institutions. I am passionate about language and culture, and I’m especially interested in the significant impact of language on international students' identity construction and negotiation.

What attracted you to come to SFU?

Before I enrolled in the M.Ed. TEFSL program, I had visited SFU several times and was impressed by its diversity, openness and liveliness. I especially appreciated how differences can be embraced at SFU. What could attract an international student more than welcoming and valuing their differences?

In addition, SFU is one of the top universities in Canada, and the Faculty of Education has also built a strong reputation locally and internationally upon its excellence in research and teaching.

Who is a faculty member that you enjoyed working with at SFU and why?

Dr. Naoko Morita has greatly influenced me in the way of finding "Self". The academic rigor demonstrated in her course has always pushed me forward; her thoughtful and compassionate approaches to teaching help students make connections between the theories and their lived experiences, which had made learning more meaningful. She is definitely an inspiration for me to become a constructive, reflective and caring language teacher. 

What would you say to prospective students who are considering graduate school at SFU?

Graduate school is never easy, as it is full of challenges and struggles. I especially appreciate the cultural and academic literacy support given to us throughout the M.Ed. TEFSL program. This support has made the process of living and learning in Canada easier and more enjoyable. Another highlight of my graduate study experience has been making lifetime friends as all my classmates share in the struggles and achievements together. If I sum up my journey at SFU in one sentence, it is that being in this program is an empowering process of discovering who I am and exploring what I could become.