SAGU is on a Mission
SAGU is on a mission. The Mission TEN movement has become a force of divine nature on our campus affecting everyone, and the English and Foreign Language department is no exception. This past summer I was blessed with two opportunities to travel to the far side of the globe and teach English, both in Nepal and South Korea. The TESOL program is producing teachers equipped to teach in any setting, so this was a great chance to put these skills into practice.
Our team to Nepal was a joint effort between SAGU Mission TEN and H.I.P. Nepal, the Himalayan Internship Program. This five- week trip was life changing. The HIP leadership poured into us a daily education on the religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and the unique Tibetan Buddhism of this region. We were taught methodology and ethnography while experiencing the country from the densely populated valley of Kathmandu to the arid highlands of the Himalayan Annapurna and Mostang region. Two weeks of our journey was spent far from any telephone in three villages nestled in the shadows of great waterfalls. In the isolated village schools of Marpha, Kobang, and Tukche we found we had an open door for real cultural interaction as we were invited to teach English. Our group used the Nepali textbooks at first, but we were given more and more freedom as the days passed. We built real relationships over language, soccer, badminton, jump rope, and volleyball. The change in attitude from our initial tacit encounters with school officials to our tearful departure was overwhelming. We were treated to ceremony and dance, to Milk tea and Kata traditional scarf presentations by village elders, and we received multiple invitations to consider returning under more permanent circumstances. The formidable, impenetrable walls of isolation and suspicion that surround these high places of the world were prayerfully overcome through relationships and the artful application of book and ball. Our team was able to lay foundations for the HIP team to continually build upon.
The trip was extreme in every sense. We delved deep below the bats into subterranean caves, climbed far off-trail up rocky rivers of snowmelt, and glimpsed the view from behind the curtain of waterfall. We soared above Mt Everest and between timbered gorges in small planes and stepped off a mountain to paraglide in Pokhara. I witnessed sunrise and sunset from canoes on Phewa Lake, trekked through mountains, and rode for days on the impossibly treacherous roads of this region. None of these experiences compared to the opportunity to witness the hope of persecuted believers in this land that boasts more gods than people and more temple shrines than houses.
The last six weeks of the summer I was privileged to lead a team of three faculty members and seven students from Southwestern and Valley Forge to teach English for Jeong Ju University in South Korea. Our team taught for the first week in a boarding school dedicated to training students in video game production. We then ran three simultaneous English summer camps for students ranging from third grade to twelfth, where we taught low income students sponsored by the city, high achievers from rural districts, and paid students recruited by the private University. Week four was a church sponsored English camp with a Christian theme at a ten thousand member church. Over the course of our time in Korea, our teachers created daily lesson plans teaching young to old, wealthy to poor, and secular to Christian.
In addition to class time, our team was able to lead nightly rallies with a focus on fun and faith. On the weekends we traveled to the English Service of a very large church where we each had opportunities to preach, to lead times of worship, and to contribute special music. The time was so powerful that one of our team members stayed on an additional month and was offered an opportunity to stay even longer.
We rounded out our trip with four days of sightseeing in Seoul, courtesy of our hosts. Six weeks of living, eating, working, playing, interceding, and worshiping with our Korean counterparts made for truly lasting relationships. It has been said that if you can teach in South Korea, you can teach anywhere. The hours are long, the environment is unpredictable, and the expectations are high. Our student teachers left Korea with a strong foundation in classroom management and an unrivaled diversity of experience. This trip has now led to an ongoing opportunity where we have been invited to bring teams with all expenses paid each summer.
A key aspect of our mission in English and Foreign Language is to prepare our students to impact the world. If Summer 2011 is any indication, we are well on our way!
SAGU Department of English and Foreign Language