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Texas Schoolhouses

How The Ladies of Language
came to help
the Blue Lotus School

If it sounds like "magic realism" - it's because it is

Our story begins in 2017 when a polite but grumbling class of ESOL students at the local Adult Education Center were requesting one hour of English conversation.

Jane, their over-worked instructor sympathized, but even though they had paid tuition, they were told nothing could be done. Jane was a veteran of NYC schools. She loved the class and her sympathy was genuine. The class understood.

Meanwhile "Tim" was tutoring six individual students in various subjects in the building's breakroom. If you have ever tried to concentrate while people were reheating their ethnic lunches over your head, then you know the hunger pangs Tim was experiencing.

Jane met Tim there over a plate of ravioli and offered to show him her class. As the semester drew to a close, he got to visit again - on the last day of class. Since Tim had wanted a class of his own, he asked the students where they lived and most of them lived in an area we'll call "Countryside."

An inquiry into the availability of meeting rooms at the library we will call "Countryside Library," was met with an enthusiastic response, and the class started meeting weekly.

Whiteboard Jungle

The class was diverse and the students showed the fledgling instructor what they want to learn. They wanted idioms, tongue-twisters, the names of comic book characters, and phobias. (Their English level was quite high - they just wanted practice.)

Trying to come up with a class name, an anagram, composed of the letters from their home countries resulted in nothing but nonsense. But with the addition of students from the Dominican Republic—a name appeared. It became DR PRUCCIA's class. (Dominican Republic, Peru, Russia, Ukraine, Cuba, Colombia, Italy, and Albania.)

DR PRUCCIA's class prospered and soon was meeting twice a week. But it was not exempt from attrition. People moved away and got jobs. But not before it morphed into three other classes at other libraries.

On the eve of the Covid Pandemic, the class at one location peaked at about 15 students including a Bolivian, two Bulgarians, two Venezuelans, three Mexicans, a mainland Chinese, a Taiwanese, a Pole, an Italian, a Russian, a Turk and an Azerbaijani. Ages ranged from sixteen years to eighty-nine.

This class became the "G.O.A.T." They met twice a week, celebrated birthdays, wrote short stories, and teased each other as if they were a family. In fact, they so exhausted their instructor, a second instructor was invited and Thursday night became "Ladies night." Tuesdays, men were allowed (if they behaved themselves). This class spoiled their instructors by their vitality, empathy and joie de vivre.

One day the instructor was subbing at another library, and when his own replacement didn't show, the class showed up to a closed door and a sign that said "Class Cancelled." But they were already there, and so was the room. The class looked at each other, shrugged and conducted itself. When the instructor asked about the class the following week, he was told: "It's okay. We understood us!"

Then the Pandemic came. Fast forward two years and the remnants of the G.O.A.T. convened in a much larger room, wearing masks.

Several had moved, some found jobs, but those veterans (some going back to the original class) met up. Most were women and it was suggested that an actual club be formed so they might better stay in touch if another emergency arose. The name "ladies of language" came up - and as new members joined, they began to meet socially with the occasional pot-luck lunch.

But the club lacked a purpose other than learning English and socializing. In November of last year, when the instructor was lamenting aloud that the club needed a purpose, a charming couple from an "antique land" heard what he was saying.

He had mentioned his concern over orphans and their chances being improved with the acquisition of English. He was soon given an email address. The address was that of a young woman of twenty year, university student in that same "antique land." She was in teacher's college and worked six days a week for a paltry $135 per month. Her passion was to teach. She wanted to repay her English mentor—who waved her fee when she couldn't afford it.

After this introduction, the young woman (who will be known as Nmi) rounded up some orphans (which, sadly, is not hard to do in her country). She is now in her fifth class as of May of 2023. and her six students range in age from six years to seventeen. Two of these are already inspired to teach.

The class was given the name Blue Lotus School. Lotus flourishes with its roots in mud—and still produces a beautiful flower. The color blue is said to represent wisdom.

So the Ladies of Language (Las Damas de Idioma) now supports grassroot schools through self-imposed dues of $3 per class per student.


You can write to Nmi, the Headmistress of Blue Lotus School through editor@texasescapes.com
Comments will be forwarded to Nmi.

A general fund for Grassroot Schools is in progress. Updates will be posted.

See A School is Born.

Nmi's story was read by Mr. Nabeel Sharoon, our contributor from Pakistan who told of his own experiences in primary education and helping supply benches to get students off cold floors in winter. His efforts were also curtailed by the pandemic and he is assembling his team as this is being written.

Related Articles:

The Internet Doesn't Exist

A School is Born

Nabeel Sharoon

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