AUAP director shares her story and role at EWU

EWU alumna Kristina Guilfoyle international students with the American experience


Photo by Karissa Berg

Kristina Guilfoyle sitting in her office.

By Rosie Perry, Staff Writer

Kristina Guilfoyle has considered EWU her home for many years, being both an EWU alumni and the director of the Asia University America Program (AUAP).

Initially Guilfoyle never planned on working with international students. However when she was a student at EWU she had an opportunity to be a peer advisor for international students.

After she graduated, a former supervisor told her she had a very good rapport with the students and she would do well teaching. Guilfoyle then began teaching an American life class for international students at EWU.

“I think I always had a relationship with international students because I am actually half Thai, so I kind of grew up translating English to English,” Guilfoyle said. She went on to say she was always around international people and that just became what she felt comfortable with.

Guilfoyle also spent quite a bit of time working and traveling internationally. From 2008 to 2013 she lived in Japan and worked at Asia University in Tokyo.

Students are required to take a year of freshman English at Asia University and Guilfoyle was one of approximately 20 foreign teachers selected to teach English to the students.

During her time in Japan, Guilfoyle managed to see a good amount of Europe and Asia as she had about four months off every year.

Her favorite place to see was Thailand. “I loved Thailand because I was familiar with the culture and I would say Thailand is one of the most welcoming places to go to for tourists,” Guilfoyle said.

In Thailand, Guilfoyle was able to see an elephant sanctuary. Occasionally the elephants are abused due to the high levels of tourists wanting to ride and see them. “It was really amazing to see and go experience,” Guilfoyle said. At the sanctuary Guilfoyle said she had the opportunity to bathe with the elephants.

Guilfoyle also said Cambodia was a wonderful place to visit. She said it was very similar to Thailand in that the people were so welcoming and the amount of English spoken there was amazing to her.

After finishing her time at Asia University, Guilfoyle came back to the United States and applied for the job she is currently holds.

She continues to teach classes to international students including an integrated English class and career exploration. These classes are designed to help the students integrate to life in America as well as prepare them for returning home.

Guilfoyle remains teaching the American life class but now with the addition of student services coordinator Michael Reid. Since AUAP students are only at EWU for five months at a time, this class can be very different each quarter. It is designed to be applicable to students during the time which they are here for.

Guilfoyle loves everything about her job and rises to any challenge. “The biggest struggle I’ve had is encouraging students to go out there and become part of the EWU community, but we always urge them to join the clubs and meet people,” Guilfoyle said, “I have a really great staff and we all want the best for our students.”