A School is
"You can do
something in the same amount of time it takes to do nothing." - Nick
A casual conversation in a Florida park planted the seed for a grassroots
school in S.E. Asia.
what could (very) loosely be called a linguistics conference, some
of the most interesting people on the West Coast of Florida gathered
last November, to gnaw on dry chicken and make new friends. The picnic
tables were filled with people who had come from the far corners of
the planet. What they had in common was that they had all learned
English as a second (or third or fourth of fifth) language and that
they had all attended school in some form.
One of the attendees had made a remark about rural schools abroad
and how some freshly-minted teachers had to bribe the administrators
for a city assignment so they might find a part time job to make ends
What of the "street children", or the children whose parents
keep them out of school for their labor in the fields?.
One of the people bothered by this was a volunteer ESOL ininstructor
called "Tim." Tim expressed his eagerness to do something. But what?
Tim's passion was noticed by a married couple who attended his class.
A short time later, Tim was given the email address of a young teacher-in-training
in S.E. Asia. This 20-year-old woman (who will be called Nmi) works
six days a week while taking a full load of classes at the local university.
Nmi had been orphaned at the age of four but inspired by her teachers,
she dreamed of one day becoming a teacher herself. She recognized
the need for English and asked around until she found an instructor
who waived her tuition because of her fervid desire to be a teacher.
So after a few exchanges (hampered by Nmi's demanding schedule) Tim
offered some help. In the space of a single week, the young student
teacher and soon there was a class of six students, ranging in age
from six to seventeen years old. All of them are orphans.
|Class Three of
the Blue Lotus School
Name withheld by request.
|Even with her
schedule, Nmi teaches on the weekend and is now on her fifth class
as of this writing (May, 2023. The videos she has sent, shows a whiteboard
and one table serving as a shared desk for the whole class.-
Her videos, when shown to Tim's students, usually bring the same responses.
"She's a natural" being the most frequently heard. The students, still
adjusting to the Roman alphabet, are nevertheless, assigned homework.
It is perhaps fitting that the outdoor "classroom" adjoins a chicken
yardsince every "life form" there is either learning from scratch
or learning to scratch.
| "From Scratch"
courtesy Wikimedia Commons
| The working
title of the school is The Blue Lotus Schoolfor the beauty
of the blossom and blue since it is said to represent wisdom.
Tim's classes were shown to a group called Las Damas de la Idiomas,
or Ladies of Language. To raise money for school supplies for Blue
Lotus School, they have come up with nominal "dues" which could also
be interpreted as a self-imposed tax for enjoying each other's company.
Las Damas has had well-wishers from Egypt, Uganda, Pakistan, Venezuela,
Argentina and South Africaand one has seriously expressed an
interest in becoming Blue Lotus School II.
The school is as grassroots as they getwith a shade tree as
a roof and dirt for a floor. There is no need for hall monitors or
fire drills. The school is held together by the mutual love and the
desire of the teacher to show gratitude for her mentor.
If you have an interest in elementary education worldwide and or
/ language instruction, please send us your comments.
Write to Tim or Nmi (pronounced nee-me) in care of editor@texasescapes.