by Rica Duchateau IB Junior
One of the three aspects of CAS is service, where IB Diploma candidates find ways to give back to the community and surroundings they live in. AIS/D has already provided us with one opportunity to do this, which is the Service Learning program, yet I feel like its requirement is taking away the feeling of accomplishment; your own goodwill should in fact be the driving force for your aid to others. I felt I wanted to be more passionate about service and found that this would happen best if I would find something to do myself outside of school.
Rica teaches English every Friday as part of her CAS program.
I have already been involved for a long time with the seminary choir at the Holy Spirit Major Seminary in Banani, Dhaka, where I have helped seminarians learn to sing English Christian songs, improve musical skills and while doing all this develop their English conversational skills and interaction with others. This is one of my CAS service and creativity projects and it has given me many connections especially throughout the Christian side of Bangladesh. After a while I came to know Fr. Bejoy Rebeiro, who teaches at the Oblate Juniorate in Mohammadpur, Dhaka. When he mentioned they were in need of someone to teach English, I had an a-ha moment and really felt I could do some service, mixed with creativity, here.
What resulted was an informal English class for a group of teenage boys at the Oblate Juniorate. Although I am a shy and quiet person, and definitely not accustomed to public speaking, I was willing to take on the challenge of teaching. I remember at first I had bunch of grammar books ready to go, assuming these boys had an adequate level of English considering they are having secondary education, but when I had my first class, I was confronted by the reality situation of English literacy in Bangladesh. My aspirations for teaching grammar in more detail had to be put aside (bye, bye grammar books for now) when I posed a question: “How old are you?” The answer: “My old is…” This really told me I had to really get back to the basics of English. So now, the main focus of this English teaching is basic conversation.
Teaching English is not as easy as I expected. I was once shocked by an answer of one student to a simple question about what he thought about the Oblate Juniorate: “I cannot express myself.“ I really feel that it is important for people to be able to express themselves and that drove me to help these students out. With the help of my mom (a former high school teacher) I tried to find ways to first of all make the class interactive, and more of a joy than a burden to the students. I decided to use music as a tool, as the seminary choir really improved their English by singing. This way, my students enjoy the classes more – they love to sing and their faces radiate happiness while they do it. One of the more recent methods is showing pictures of my travels on my laptop and having them share their thoughts. This improves their conversation, but also their cultural awareness.
I definitely want to continue this project. That is why I have committed myself to waking up at 9 am almost every Friday morning to go and have a one-hour class with my students. With my efforts, I hope to not really improve their English, but also establish long lasting friendships with the locals. I really feel CAS service has enabled me to know Bangladesh from a side other than school and I am sure these will all be valuable experience for me to take home with me when I return to Belgium to go to university.