The day I realised the importance of this program
Author: Alex McKenzie
Excerpt: English Teaching Fellow, Alex McKenzie, looks back at his time in Colombia and the moment where he realised the importance of the MEN program.
As my time in Colombia draws to an end, it seems like a good time to reflect on some big experiences. I would like to use this opportunity however to talk about just one moment. A short conversation that I had with a student.
Upon returning to the school from the winter break, I began to start working with grade eleven. Faces I knew, but students that I didn’t. I had been teaching eleventh grade in the previous semester, but the vast majority of these students had now left and I had to start anew. On the first day I met a student named Juan Pablo. He seemed like a good student, with a good attitude and a very promising level of English.
This wasn’t always the case though. He referred to the previous fellow who taught in his class last year and who had now moved on from the program. He said that had it not been for her, he did not think he would be here right now. Instead he would be repeating grade ten. It was then that I realised the benefits that both I and the program could bring to the students.
In classes of forty students or more it is virtually impossible for one teacher to make an impact on every single student. But the presence of this fellow allowed the students a level of attention that they had not before received. Juan Pablo talked about the extra help he got, the questions he could ask, both about English and another culture and he wholeheartedly declared that this spurred on his desire, not just in English but in all school subjects.
It was definitely on this day that I truly realised the importance of the roles that we are performing and I hope that I was able to recreate this same level of enthusiasm in my students.
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