10 Years

7-7-7 was the date that was used as starting point for ESC, while in reality the first class was later. Considering ESC was first an idea, then a work in progress and finally a school.

So 7-7-17 was our ten year anniversary, and we didn’t celebrate. Mostly because we forgot. And this is because in 10 years time all those who were there at the start have moved on, while new faces have appeared.

Never the less, 10 years ESC is an achievement and only possible by the hard work of many. Thanks very much to all of you.

English Speaking Course Nu Po

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Visit Briana (and Marco didn’t know)

A community is like a living organism, it grows, it shrinks, it loves, it breaths, it fights, it suffers, it thrives, it defies borders.

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Thanks to Marco, Goodbye to Briana

In 2009, teacher Briana came for 3 months and stayed 6, leaving with pain in her heart. She returned to Nu Po some months later to provide a teacher training with ZOA and the Camp Education Committee for all high school teachers in the camp. And the she moved on to other places.

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Briana enjoys the entertainment while Marco takes a picture.

At the end of 2016, ESC was asking around for a new teacher, as it wanted to make a fresh start. Briana’s husband Marco, who all those years ago spend one week in Nu Po visiting his wife and introducing Spanish as en elected subject, reacted immediately and ESC jumped on the opportunity. In a few weeks Marco will begin his third session at ESC, and he has energised everybody at the school.

In between two jobs, Briana wanted to visit her husband a month ago but when she was asked to provide a teacher in Yangon in collaboration with Mote Oo. That training finished a week ago and she would go and visit ESC later this month, but decided to surprise Marco en last week she went to ESC for a short visit.

Apart from a few faces, she didn’t meet any person from 8 years ago, showing how much has changed in the camps, how many people have resettled, have gone back, have found places outside the camps. And more changes will come.

Also at ESC things change all the time. This month we had to say goodbye to Oo San Win, who helped start the school in the first 6 months. Teacher Wah Wah htoo Say has left for Yangon, where she hopes to find a job in education, at least she was able to join Brian’s teacher training.

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Teacher ‘Extraordinaire’ Marco.

Thai

Our Thai-Karen student Wanpen offered Thai classes two months ago, but she has already gone back to Thailand where she follows a medic training. Another student temporarily took over Thai class until the new teacher, who was discovered by Marco, could start. This teacher is well known and soon the numbers in Thai class swelled to 15.

Our student Aung Kyaw has offered to teach beginner classes and Moe Moe is stepping up to function as school manager.

Our teacher Peacock has been offered a position at PDJC and soon he reluctantly will leave us, but Marco has already spotted an excellent replacement, whose name we cannot reveal yet.

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Teacher Peacock gets a present from a student.

Part of the success at ESC comes from the fact that education is slowly leaving the camps, and support for teachers has been cut. Luckily teachers like Briana and Marco are willing to support the local teachers who show a dedication many of us can take an example from.

Goodbye and thanks

The students decided to finish the second term with a small party with singing and dancing, food and drinks. Without the aid of teachers they organised a goodbye to Briana and a thank you to Marco who is now on a two week holiday with his wife.

Another visit

A friend of ESC is in Nu Po for some research and students at ESC have offered to help where they can, in exchange for extra classes.

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Thai and Art Classes

Music is a great way to use in teaching so in order to introduce a video on poverty and the idea about Basic Income Guarantee, this teacher decided to use his singing and guitar playing skills. He doesn’t have any. And the guitar has only got four strings.

The video can be seen online and is called “Poverty isn’t a lack of character, it’s a lack of cash”. During and after the video the students and teacher discussed many things around poverty and ways to solve it. While the video and the vocabulary added challenges to the lessons, that class was very attentive and contributed widely to the lessons.

This Saturday students were invited to come to ESC to paint the school. Not the wall, but to create water colours of the compound. While everyday this week had heavy rains, it was hoped that like other days the rains would wait for the afternoon, and they did.

About 10 students showed up and together with teachers and staff, and two students from the high school, there were around 15 artists who all looked at the school from different vantage points.

Of course snacks were provided, this time the samosa’s and ee kya kway from San Lin, a former ESC students who provides these snacks every day in several tea shops.

The result of the day’s efforts can be seen below, and their English skills are as good as their creative ones.

This week also saw the return of the prodigal son, and from Monday onwards Teacher Marco will front the class again. He joined the Thai class on Friday and was a patient painter on Saturday.

After the art class we seeded the raised bed for teacher Marco, so pretty soon he is totally self sufficient.

In the meantime we hear that Saya Ma Wah Wah Htoo Say is doing well in Yangon and her children have joined school over there.

Last Week of May

The rainy season hasn’t started yet, the rains have been visiting Nu Po relentlessly. Heavy showers resulting in streams that resemble the wild rivers of the Himalayas, in miniature form. For some people the rains came too early as their roofs had not been fixed yet, at ESC we have little problems with the large roof and the office. As workers are busy else where we have to live with cups and saucers in places where dripping occurs.

After out avocado planting there were 4 totally dry days and this was not good for the plants. No sooner that we started watering, the rains returned and now we hope the trees have not suffered too much.

The second half of May saw the opening of a special Thai class. Student Wanpen was elevated to teacher and as she cannot speak Burmese, the class was open to those students who spoke well enough English to follow Wanpen. Ten students started the course with Ko Ga, Ko Khai.

In order to prepare the compound for the rains, yesterday a group of volunteers came and helped clean the compound, fix the path to the school, build a raised bed so Teacher Marco can grow his own food and after a coffee and snack watched the movie “Dirt” about soil and how important that is.

With dirt under their nails they went home.

Avocado Trees and Two Roofs

 

Two Shed Jackson was a famous artists in the 70’s in England, now we have “Two Roof” Dominique.

This Saturday a group of ESC students planted around 20 Avocado trees around the compound while some other students, with the main work done by Dominique created two small roofs in front of the doors of the office and the teacher room.

The First Week

A first week is always full of surprises, students register on the appointed day, and the day after, and the after and the day after and probably a week after. Classes have started and teachers are asked to be lenient and we are.

The second session started so far with 94 students, of which 37 are new. The students come from every section in the camp, and the majority is female.

Today we also had a small farewell as our teacher Wah Wah Htoo Say is leaving ESC for another future. She was with ESC for almost two years and has been very helpful with setting up the school again in 2017. Her enthusiasm in the classroom will be missed.

And also Tun Hla will focus on other topics. He was the person who started the talks in November to restart the school and he helped clearing the compound and some maintenance of the buildings. Without him ESC might not be the school it is now.

The school compound added to the farewell with being beautiful.

First Session 2017 January-April

The first session of 2017 started in January, with an placement test on the 7th and the first classes on the 16th. The week in between we had a badminton tournament and 136 students sat the test and signed up for classes. A school working group was already in place although one of the three original members had to leave because of other commitments. Our new set up meant that we started with two office managers and three local teachers, on top of that Marco from the USA would arrive later for the Intermediate and Upper Intermediate classes. Until his arrival Ton would take on his classes.

During the first week students would still register until we stopped that possibility as classes had started. With Three Starter A classes, 2 Starter B, 1 Elementary, 1 Pre-Intermediate, and one mixed class of Intermediate and Upper-Intermediate we started the program.

As a team we had much to learn as most knowledge about running ESC had gone. In a way this makes the school also a learning place for the working group. Soon it was discovered that it would be better to adjust expectations to the level of development so far. Each day things would be done in a better way and right now the school independently run by local staff.

After two weeks Teacher Marco arrived and he took over the classes of Ton, and the students had to get used to the different way Marco would teach compared with Ton. Ton said it was an improvement.

On April 7 was the final school day as Tingyan or Songkran was around the corner. Thara Marco stayed until the end of the month, promising to return for three more months.

Test for the 2nd session

On April 29, the placement test for new students was held and 31 new students came to the school to sit the test. Students from the first session are automatically placed, although they may opt for another level.

As it is a placement test all students will be accepted.

On May 2, the second session will start.