Today I’m as happy as a dog with two tails! Analogy? Simile? Or metaphor? Such was the last class I taught at Discovery School for the Burundian primary school teachers. For the past 4 weeks I’ve been helping them with their English language skills as they teach their Burundian students in English using an American curriculum. We’ve reviewed tenses, worked on pronunciation focusing on stress, rhythm, and intonation, finished up with analogies, similes and metaphors.
I had the pleasure of working with some of these teachers last year as well, leading a writer’s workshop. Both then and now I found it such a pleasure to work with them because they are so eager to learn, so appreciative of my time and efforts and are just really joy-filled, fun individuals.
They are a special group of teachers because they know they are on the forefront of developing primary education in a new direction in Burundi. They know they are not teaching their students the way they were taught when they went to school. Not only are they teaching in English, instead of French (the language of education in Burundi until just recently when English was added) or their mother tongue, Kirundi; they are using an American curriculum that is culturally bound often to concepts they have not yet learned themselves. This is a huge challenge but they take it on graciously and in stride. They are willing to learn if someone will lead them but it’s hard to take the initiative when you don’t know where to start because you’ve only known one system for learning and education. Joy Johnson, the founder of the school with husband Jesse, is very aware of this so she’s continually providing them with professional development training and seminars. She is amazing in her energy, vision and hope for the teachers, the students, the school and education in Burundi. I’m so glad to have gotten to know her.
Working with these teachers has been a highlight of this past semester. Their enthusiasm, engagement and desire to learn and grow, even during the last month of the school year, have been refreshing and contagious. As we parted for the summer it was with the hope and intention to pick up again in September when school reopens. I look forward to it. Until then everyone is ready for a break from school.