Recently, I read that Global Citizen was starting a movement called #shOwup to give voice to those of us working, in our own small way, to make changes to the world that will hopefully raise awareness and bring an end to poverty in our lifetime. Part of this movement is to educate others, but most especially girls and women. Few experiences in my life mean more to me then the opportunities I’ve had to impact the lives of children from other countries, whose families came to America to save their children from war, economic crises, even genocide.
I have been able to work in the classroom, and as a volunteer, teaching mainly English Language, but also general life skills, like swimming. Last year, each Saturday over 6 months, I worked with a local refugee resource and network organization Iskashitaa.org, teaching English language mainly to adult refugees, mostly women, from countries like Birundi, the Sudan, Tanzania, Mexico, and Bhutan. Along with these lessons, I taught basic math skills involving money, time, and reading a western calendar. I taught them about local resources available to them, and spoken phrases to get the help and assistance they deserve. Often, they would bring their children, and the lessons would include them as well!
This summer, I volunteered for a week of swimming lessons at the same community residences, teaching refugee kids how to avoid drowning, but also how to have fun in the water. I worked with two other awesome and dedicated volunteers, again through Iskashitaa. I made a commitment to come back after the school year begins, and volunteer a day of homework help per week to the kids of a Somali family. I have come full-circle in this, as I began my service to refugees through Iskashitaa when I was still a novice teacher, back in 2007.
Over the years, I have volunteered when I could, and also made sure to stay educated myself. I have taken many hours of professional development, mostly online and for free when I could. The local University of Arizona Center for English as a Second Language (CESL) department offers many free classes, to teachers as well as students. Currently though, I have taken the big step of going back to college for a Master’s degree in Multicultural Education and ESL (at NAU). I am taking two courses per semester, and incurring more loan debt as I go…but I am hoping it is a means to an end. I’ve decided to dedicate my life to Education, so I felt it was time to increase my knowledge and skills, and hopefully to reach a broader audience.
My eventual plan is to go to another country, perhaps through the Peace Corps, and teach English in a community far from my home. I feel this to be my ultimate mission as a teacher, one I aim to complete before I have to retire (I am already 50 years old, so I need to get on it!). Then I will truly be a Global Citizen.