Today, I have my friend, Makeda (who is on TeamMoldova with me) guest-posting. She and I served on the same team today in teaching English to students at a Russian public school. I thought I’d let you hear another team members voice today.
So, here’s Makeda…
Today our team was split into three teams as we had the opportunity to go into the public schools of Moldova to help the students work on their conversational English. We used a lesson created by Paul Sims, which helped make today brilliant. I was in a group with Jenni, Helen and Alise; it was definitely a highlight of this trip for me. We taught five different high school classes.
We opened up the lessons introducing ourselves and then we gave them an opportunity to ask us questions about us or America. The younger grades asked more general questions about America – our sports and life in general. The older kids, on the other hand, were definitely very quick to jump into personal questions. Twice, we were asked outright about our faith and Jenni was able to share about Christ in the middle of a Russian public school!
When the kids learned that Jenni was a singer and musician, they asked her to sing for them. She chose to sing the National Anthem and in the last stanza, the rest of us joined her. Side note: Jenni has a beautiful voice and so does Alise, these ladies voices are like angels. I was grateful to have my voice lost in the midst because I clearly would have brought them down.
After the first class, our translator “encouraged” EVERY class to ask us to sing. So, we were incredibly patriotic today as we sang the National Anthem FIVE TIMES! It was a lot of fun actually. For the last few classes we asked the kids to sing the Moldovan National Anthem. Here is a video of one of the classes singing the anthem; they were so good:
Part of our time with the students involved us playing a game with them called “Future Me”. Looking 10 years into the future they had to introduce their future selves to the class. A couple of things stood out for me about these kids. First up they are really smart and very sharp. But what struck me most was that each of them was able to dream, on at least some level, about a future.
In their words was hope that they would be successful, have families and enjoy life. When asked what their proudest moment would be, more than one young person mentioned raising a good family and/or being a good mother/father/wife/husband. How fabulous is that?! It was inspiring to hear them talk. One student stated she wanted to be a receptionist in a hotel. In America that might not seem like a great job to aspire to but in Moldova is actually quite reputable. One must be able to speak English very well, be good at math and have great inter-personal skills; it’s a wonderful thing to want to be when one grows up.
My favorite person from today was a young man who said his proudest moment would be enjoying every day and being thankful for each new day. Despite the odds, this young man was choosing joy in the middle of his circumstances. I don’t know his story but I do know that he lives in the poorest country in Eastern Europe with very little chance of being really “successful” and yet he chooses joy. It was this kind of hope that I saw in teenager after teenager today.
It is clear that the odds are stacked against them but what wasn’t as clear to me is whether or not they know it because, despite everything, they are holding onto hope and choosing, for today at least, to believe that life can be better for them. It is this belief that is driving the work of Beginning of Life in the school system and once again I was inspired to see the work they are doing.
It was such a joy to get to spend the morning with these young people, who are not so different than American teenagers. I think the other ladies would agree with me in saying that we had a lot of fun today hanging with those students. It was a spot of light in the middle of a dark space and it was good to breathe in that light today.