Friday, November 12, 2010

English Lessons

(Straight from my blog posting at

Name: Eli(zabeth) Mitchell
Position: Data Manager, Communications Coordinator
With CCHIPs Since: August 2010

When I started looking at opportunities to volunteer abroad after college, I had one criterion to follow: I did not want to teach English. (Okay, I actually had many others that led me to realize that CCHIPs was the best opportunity for me – but not teaching English was a pretty firm standard I set for myself.) Even though I loved teaching ESL when I worked in Mississippi, I felt that teaching English in a foreign country only helped arm people with the tools needed to leave that country – quite counter-intuitive to development.
Rwanda’s recent adoption of English as a national language, however, creates a need for English teachers, even among individuals who want to work in and help develop Rwanda. This, paired with the motivated nurses at Shingiro and Kabere health centers has created the ideal teaching situation: the nurses are motivated to learn English in order to understand official documents or official presentations, which are increasingly done in English; I am happy to teach them because I know they will be able to use it in their current jobs – and because teaching brings back great memories of coaching lacrosse or of teaching at St. Paul’s School’s summer program.
So every Tuesday I head to Kabere Health Center and every Wednesday to Shingiro Health Center. Following Dr. Nathalie’s medical training, I commence an English lesson. As I already said: these lessons are quite ideal for any teacher. Unlike others who might be teaching English to a large group of unmotivated and distracted 11 year olds in an overcrowded, hot, and loud classroom – I teach to a mature group of motivated nurses who all take notes and ask questions and try to practice their English as often as possible. Even after the lesson, in the car ride back to town, they will continue to try to converse in English and are unafraid of pointing at objects to ask what they are.
Although I’m not quite sure where English lessons “fit” into the CCHIPs model of developing rural health centers, I am happy that I have the opportunity to work at Shingiro and Kabere each week, and to interact with the nurses. Their eagerness to learn, during English and during Dr. Nathalie’s lessons, and their good spirits during the car ride home serve as my weekly inspiration for my work, and a reminder of its importance.
Highlight of the Week: The Ministry of Health announced that they will adopt the CCHIPs Management Organization Structure in all health centers by March 2011! CCHIPs will work closely with the MOH between now and then to finalize position descriptions for managers and ensure that both groups are approve of the finalized organigramme.

Best Meal of the Week: Toss-up between Marvin’s pre-melted double-grilled cheeses and the cookies I baked last night. 

No comments: