Teach English in Peixianhuxinongchang Guanli Weiyuanhui - Xuzhou Shi

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I have taught in the primary and secondary sector in Canada; as well as university students and adult education. In 2016 I was downsized from my position in a university and at that point I decided that I no longer wanted to teach in a so-called institution. I packed my bags and traveled to Europe in the hope of landing a position in the humanitarian sector in the Middle East. I had a particular interest in working with Syrians, since Canada had accepted a substantial number of Syrian refugees. From Europe I went to the Middle East--Jordan and Lebanon--and finally decided to spend some time in Lebanon to volunteer to teach English in a humanitarian-based organization. As it turned out, I ended up volunteering on three separate occasions; this essay outlining several of the challenges I faced. Firstly, just because you are volunteering doesn’t necessarily mean that your students are eagerly willing to take in all that you have to offer. I had thought, for example, that the persons I was to be teaching would be ready and willing to take in all that I had to offer. It is more likely that your students have to take your course because they simply do not have the funds to pay for one; and, even though they may start out as serious, there could be a number of challenges or barriers that are going on in their personal lives that impede them from getting involved as much as you would like them to. Secondly, if you are volunteering for an organization, chances are that you will not have the element of control on what you are going to teach that you thought or “wish” you had. For instance, you might find yourself placed in a position where you are assisting another volunteer who is far less experienced than you. You could find yourself placed in a working environment that is pretty much unorganized; you having to pick up and continue teaching where the last volunteer left off, with no guiding factors to help you in moving forward. There may be books or resources that are either useless or redundant; the previous volunteer having no clear idea of what he or she was doing, and now the organizer expects you to clean up the situation, moving forward. On the other hand, there could be an eager sea of faces excited to see you on the first day, wanting to move forward; and then you find that the course outline and materials to be so irrelevant to their needs that you have no idea how your students managed to get even as far as they did. Perhaps the course material is culturally insensitive; maybe it is totally irrelevant to the students’ actual needs. Further, maybe you don’t speak any of their language and they are all at different levels, making your efforts even that much more challenging. My suggestion would be to try to find a happy medium to go with the flow, in understanding that you are likely there for a short period of time and you might be the only bright light in your students’ lives, given the challenges that they face on a daily basis. I found that my solace as an English teacher to my Syrian students in Lebanon was finding ways to make whatever language learning we did to be relevant to their lives. We cooked together, we did art activities together, and we sewed and repaired clothing, all on the backdrop of learning English and hopefully toward their becoming economically viable. In the little bit I contributed to changing their lives, I carried from them, experiences that invariably changed my life, as well.