Sunday, 18 November 2007

Teaching Iraqi Christians

I've just been offered my dream job!

I've taught English to adult learners for a few years now, mostly business people. I love the job, the language is fascinating and there's something deeply satisfying about being personally responsible for the development of another human being. Although I never made distinctions between managers and the unemployed, I usually got a deeper sense of fulfilment teaching those really needed the language to get somewhere in life, as opposed to those who were doing it on the side as a hobby.

Well, given this little passion of mine, I have just been offered the most exciting and demanding contract I've ever been offered, and I thought I share it with you lot.

The Redemptorists, the monastic order who run the school my wife teaches at, have a branch in Baghdad, Iraq. Three Iraqi youth (in their twenties), who have shown particular commitment to the Church, are being sponsored by the religious order to fly to America, where they will study theology at a university and then train to become priests. The ultimate goal is to send them back to Iraq once they are qualified to serve there and the situation has stabilized.

The problem is, they can't speak English, not a word of it! In order to prepare them for their studies, they're being sent here, to Bonn, to acquire the necessary linguistic skills to study in the States (the reason they're being sent to Germany to learn English has to do with Visa complications). In other words, they have to go from zero knowledge to fluent in the space of a year and a half (originally the Order wanted six months, but that is just ridiculous). The sole individual responsible for guiding them through this little linguistic and cultural venture (I hope it won't be a trauma), is me! Not only am I personally responsible for their linguistic well-being, I can do what I like, how I like. I can use the material I want, the methods I want, and I will have the unparalleled privilege of seeing these earnest followers of Christ blossom into eloquent speakers of the English tongue (I'm assuming they're motivated)! And not only that - it's for a good cause, a fascinating cause, and, I hope, a profoundly significant cause (Christian witness in Iraq).

Does it get any better than that?

I already had a fascination with Middle Eastern Christianity. This new development will no doubt be the cause of several posts on the situation of Iraqi Christians appearing on this blog at various points in the future. For those who want a little taster, I discovered this ecumenical site dedicated to their plight here. Those who live in the states have guidelines on how to take action and write to Congress on their behalf.


anthony said...

best wishes as you help them not just with english but to build up their faith as well.

Phil Sumpter said...

Thanks Anthony,I'm sure the edification will go both ways.