Educating Mtendere or educating me?

Teaching House MothersTuesday was our second day at Mtendere Village, an orphanage in Malawi. We have been looking forward to this day because we finally had a chance to interact with everyone at Mtendere and meet our students who we would tutor.

We started the day with our two hour service time block. While the rest of the group started organizing the books from the library, the Ball State people had a chance to teach. The four stations to teach were preschool, one-on-one time with a house mother, a special needs student, and the rest of the house mothers. We plan to rotate between these places throughout the week.

I worked with our instructor, Mr. Kline, in teaching the house mothers’ class. After observing the grammar class, we had the opoprtunity to teach math. Bringing a social atmosphere into a traditional environment to teach math factorization really made a difference in morale.

After sorting the donations and a quick lunch break, I was finally able to meet my tutoring partner, Tonex. Tonnex wants to be an ambassador to help the people of Malawi. He wants to ensure everyone has jobs, food, and water. What a great 12-year-old kid! Dream big dreams, Tonnex!

After an hour of tutoring, the whole orphanage got together for an activity: learning Chichewa, their native language. We split up into groups, leaving 2 visitors for every group of students. They were to teach us as much Chichewa as they could before we had to perform in front of the entire group. Let’s just say, I could have done better.

In reflecting on today, I wonder who is being taught. Am I teaching the people of Mtendere Village, or are they teaching me? Both.

While I was in the classroom with the house mothers, I practiced critiquing other teachers. Our suggestions will improve the way they teach. At the same time, I gained valuable experience about what it will be like to teach a student from a foreign country. I worked my way through the cultural and language barriers to teach a great lesson.

When tutoring Tonnex, he obviously gains skills in reading, but I also learn from him. He taught me that no matter what your situation in life, you can always dream big. He wants to be an ambassador for the most selfless reasons. This is a child, who just 3 years ago, was left alone in a developing country. I can dream big as well. His situation is an example of how one’s dream can create opportunities for others.

My last lesson of the day was learning Chichewa. It was so hard for me to even memorize just a few phrases. This gives me insight to how ESL students must feel in schools in the United States. I really want to learn chichewa, I work hard at it, and I have great teachers. Even so, I am having great difficulty learning.

These are just a few examples of what I am learning on this trip. I am given insights that help me become a better educator and even a better person.


5 Responses

  1. I love to read the stories every day. The pictures almost makes it feel like I am able to travel with you.

    • I am happy you noticed some of the other pictures I added last night. The internet connection is slow in Malawi, as one might expect, so it takes a long time to load pictutes. I think it is worth it, and I am glad you appreciate it.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. We eagerly await your daily messages. Remember, you are all making a difference everyday. Beth (Tony Kline’s mom)

  3. Thank you for sharing your experiences. I too feel as if I am involved in your venture. I am reading your blogs as if I am reading a chapter book. Keep up the good work

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