>> 01 December 2014
So now that I've gotten more into a groove, I've found that my time is occupied much differently than I thought it would be. Before I started working in my ministry, I had imagined long, rewarding days, weekend trips to the districts for teacher trainings, conferences, presentations, interviews with important people, hand-shaking, school visits, and doing lots of important work. HAH. In reality, I share a 2x3 desk with another girl, and we both hunch over our netbooks for 8 hours a day in a dark corner (the lights are broken) of a building that is not even physically connected to my ministry. I do work on things, but none of them are very important, and are often just dead-end projects clearly given to me to keep me busy. Oh, there is important work to be done, and I am actually qualified to do most of it, but it never seems to be "the right time," so I don't.
Instead, I have thrown my whole self into volunteering. This weekend I went again to Atauro to begin doing a program evaluation for a locally run NGO. They run English language and computer skills classes, as well as a restaurant for disabled or widowed women, and are trying to get an eco-lodge off the ground to use as a hospitality training center. The problem is that all these initiatives are largely driven by the impetus of one man, who has just received a full scholarship to study in New Zealand. I'm doing the program evaluation so that he can start creating proposals to other NGOs to send a volunteer teacher to at least keep the school going. Hopefully a solid review highlighting the past success, current infrastructure, and future need will be enough to convince someone to help him. It's a huge project for me, and involves interviewing lots of people and writing a lot, but I think in the long run it could really help.
I've also been hosting fairly regular writing workshops- what started as a once-a-month plan has turned into "please please please can you teach us how to write _____ because we need to learn ASAP!" I have no long-term plans to do them as often as I have been lately (each workshop is about 3 hours and takes me another 6 or so to prepare for), but I'm starting to seriously consider taking on a few students regularly. The students I've been working with are so curious and so hungry for knowledge and they encourage me in a way that students in the US never have.
And then there's the thing I'm procrastinating doing right now... volunteer ESL teaching. I am not a certified ESL teacher, but it hardly matters. The classes are free, most of the students are different every time, and this is probably the easiest kind of teaching I've ever done. The only new information (unless we start talking about cultural things) is language, and because there are no grades, homework, or tests, we mostly just play listening and speaking games. In the past I've just been there as an assistant to my friend from choir, but tonight I'm actually taking on my own class. Our night classes have gotten so popular that we're going to have to split them into beginner and advanced, and I've been assigned the beginner level. I've taken beginner classes in 7 languages throughout my life, so I've pretty much got the format down ;)
I pretty much have my hands full here but I'm always looking for more ways to contribute. After Christmas, I'm going to start looking more seriously into hosting some language workshops- I've actually been asked to do a 5-day series through my ministry, but I'm not holding my breath that it will actually happen.