Showing posts with label Teaching English. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teaching English. Show all posts

Monday, October 27, 2008

10/27 - Dreaming Big/Putting Yourself Out There

Monday started early – we’re talking 5:30 am early (I’m not a morning person, but Africa is changing my life). We took a field trip to an HIV and AIDs clinic in the morning, and then had classes all afternoon. When 4 pm rolled around and we finished I was dreading the next activity I had gotten myself into – teaching English to the pastor’s wife. I had only met her briefly for 5 minutes, and could not remember her name though she was nice enough. She had asked for someone to practice English with and so I agreed to meet her once a week.

When I made it to the church, I met a smiling Vanessa (I had to ask about what her name was again) who had written me a two page introduction in English for this lesson. I was blown away by her preparation and resolve to learn, particularly after reading she had only studied English alone by buying a few books, listening to BBC News, and watching English movies. On paper her English was about as good as my Spanish after years of formal classes with professors. I spent the next hour learning a bit of her fascinating life story as we conversed easily back and forth in Portuguese and English. Vanessa grew up in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Four years ago she moved to Africa with her husband, a pastor in a Universalist Church, and they are frequently moved around Moz to different congregations. She left her family and was putting on hold having kids of her own to devote her life to this ministry she is passionate about, which I respect.

In the introduction Vanessa wrote for me it literally stated, “My dream is to speak, to think, to dream in English!” Vanessa eventually wants to move to an English-speaking nation to help people in communities there. I felt rewarded after helping her for an hour with English knowing that her purpose in turn was to go out and serve. We joked, laughed when we discovered her great love for Oprah, and I learned a lot about Brasil (which is rapidly moving up on the top of my list of places to visit).

The simple answer for wanting to come here was to help people, and this opportunity presented itself clearly, in the process enriching my own life. This experience caused me to reflect upon all the many times in my life I have been hesitant to begin a process, but once I jumped in ended up loving it. I’ve always been this way. When I was little and super shy (yes! believe it!) my family always vacationed to the mountains in Montreat in the summer and my parents enrolled me in the local day camp. I would always kick and scream refusing to go, but they dragged me. In the end, I enjoyed it so much I returned to be a camp counselor one summer in college.

I took home from yesterday how rewarding our efforts were - both for me and Vanessa, who had clearly spent hundreds of hours poring over English words alone. So put yourself out there, live a little, and you might just go further than you think!

Startling Stats
*According to the CDC, the latest survey estimated 25-30% of the population in Maputo is infected with HIV and AIDs.
*It is estimated that in some rural areas the HIV and AIDs infection rate is as high as 80%.