Peggy Khoury

A second generation Californian, I was born and raised in Pasadena.  While I was in college I studied Italian, Art and Art History for a year in Florence, Italy.  I didn't speak any Italian before I went there, so I was in a situation similar to many of our current College of the Canyons students with no knowledge of the new language.    I was in a small class of about 12 students from all over the world.  Our only common language was Italian, forcing all of us to speak Italian.  It was a wonderful experience, one I will never forget.  This is what started my love of interacting with international people.
On my return to the US, I started working at Princess Cruises in their office in Century City, California.  I was the Corporate Trainer, teaching a three-week class to reservations agents about all the information they needed to answer calls about cruises.  I went on 13 cruises, visiting many beautiful and exotic places.  While working there, I met my husband-to-be, Paul.  We both enjoy traveling and have been to many incredible places all over the world.
Following Princess Cruises, I worked for 11 years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for the European Space Agency, as a Spacecraft Scheduler, creating plans which uplinked Ulysses, a spacecraft orbiting the polar ends of the sun with the ground stations located in California, Australia and Spain.  I worked with engineers from many countries, including England, India, Spain, Portugal, Malaysia, Northern Ireland, and Germany.  While working there, I completed my Bachelor’s degree (Liberal Arts) at California Polytechnic University, Pomona.
From there, I worked at various temporary jobs including M2 and Borax, then I began working at St. Jude Medical in the Software Development department.  There were engineers from all over the world there.  I had a lot of fun meeting all these people.  But my heart was not in my job so I decided that I would go back to UCLA and get my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificate.  When I was about to finish the program, I was required to volunteer in an ESL classroom for 120 hours during one quarter.  I was lucky enough to connect with Doris Schiller, a fantastic teacher at College of the Canyons, who acted as my “Mentor” teacher.   I enjoyed it so much that the following semester, once I had completed all of my training, I asked to come back the following semester to work with Doris!  She taught me many, many wonderful things, and I am forever thankful to her for spending the time with me.
In summer, 2007, I was hired to teach my own class.  My first classes were “pre-level” which meant the students did not speak any English.  I was often asked how many different languages I spoke, to which I would always reply, “one”.  I was amazed and pleasantly surprised to watch non-English speakers begin to grasp the language.  It made me recall my learning experience back in Italy. 
I truly believe I have the best job in the world.  I meet wonderful people everyday, and I love watching their knowledge improve every day.  I always tell my students that if I win millions of dollars in the lottery, I would continue to teach English as a Second Language. That is how much I love my job.


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