Time is flying by and there’s only two months left before my departure. Lots of really fun things have been going on and I wanted to take a moment to tell everyone about them!
First of all, I’ve gotten my placement!!! I will be teaching in Omungwelume, a large village in Northern Namibia (so far north that I’ll be rather close to the border between Namibia and Angola). The village is about 30 km away from a big town, Oshakati (big by Namibian standards, meaning a couple thousand people!). I’ll be teaching English and Computers to 6th and 7th graders, and my field director also mentioned that the current volunteers there have started a school library, so I think they may be passing the torch to me once they leave.
Other exciting news is that I’ve fulfilled my ESL requirement. WorldTeach required all volunteers to gain 25 hours of experience teaching English as a foreign language before leaving, and I’ve spent the last couple of months teaching at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in North Philadelphia. It has been such a tremendously inspiring experience. My class was roughly 20 people who have emigrated from Asia (with the exception of ONE person, Maria, who is from Mexico). It was such a challenging experience because the students fell into all different levels of proficiency in the language and I was in charge of making sure that every single person found the class helpful. It has been very frustrating at times, but there hasn’t been a day that I didn’t leave the class feeling so overjoyed and inspired.
And, in addition to teaching a class, I have started tutoring a woman, Nhung, who was an absolute beginner and unable to learn anything in class because of it. It has only been three weeks since I started tutoring her and I can already see an amazing difference in her ability to speak, read, and write. She has even started answering questions and making comments during the larger class, which was completely unheard of before I began tutoring her. She is constructing basic sentences and getting across fairly complex things with the use of limited English and LOTS of body language. Yesterday she told me that she wants to take me to a Vietnamese restaurant because we are friends now. I was so happy yet so overcome with sadness because it will only be a few more weeks before I move home to West Chester and have to leave her.
And, speaking of leaving things unfinished (!!), I wanted to provide a link to an interesting article my Aunt Liz sent me about Teach for America, a pretty elitist volunteer program that recent college graduates have been flocking to: Why Teach For America. The article really got me thinking about what sort of impact I will be able to make in a single year. A year seems like such a long time, but I really worry that a revolving door of volunteers who only stay for one year stints may not be the best solution. I hope, at the very least, that I can do a great job teaching my students. I think the TESL requirement has really given me useful experience in dealing with difficulties that arise with language barriers and I hope that it cuts down on a lot of the initial problems that many volunteers have when going in to teach.
Perhaps I will save a lengthy response to the article for another day. It’s about time to get ready for work! I hope everyone is doing well and I’ll try to update again soon!