We finished up our course on Thursday. To help the students consolidate what we had discussed and to help me evaluate what everyone had learned, I had two assignments for them.
The first was a four-page review of the class material. Since it was all in English, I assigned them each a partner and gave them about five hours over two days. They could use their books and notes; I simply wanted to see if they could get to the information and apply it.
The second assignment was an individual paper. First I had each student give me a list of five to ten goals they had in life or things they intended to do. I then told them to write a three-page paper (on local notebooks: small pages) that told a story of their lives and showed how these choices and plans connected to this class. I wanted to see how they could use their life goals and life decisions to help their communities develop. Since English is such a challenge for them and I have already forced them into so much listening and reading, I said they could choose their language for writing.
It seemed like such a good idea.
However, I didn’t think it through to completion. On Wednesday I found myself staring at twenty-nine three page papers in Karen. I could read it slowly, but would need some assistance with the comprehension. Yim can translate beautifully, but she is just now learning to read & write Karen. She went to Thai school and uses that or English for writing.
Thus, we have spent the past three days with three of us gathered around the table. A teacher or student reads the papers aloud, Yim translates to me, and I take notes and comments. It felt a little like a game of telephone.
The results have been interesting as well.
Three students intend to purchase airplanes; one bought a rocket and visited the moon. Two went to the sea with their girlfriends. Another two opened a computer shop and copied CDs to sell for income; something that was already suggested in a previous class where I explained the illegality of it.
Another student wrote that they didn’t listen at the beginning of the course because she was tired. Later, she realized that the teacher was tired, too, as she was. But these were important things for her to learn, and now her heart was very sad because she cannot go back in time; now she has learned to always learn when she has the opportunity.
I wasn’t sure how to respond to this one: kind of insult that she didn’t listen and apparently I looked tired? I guess she did learn something, although not what I taught?!
That said, overall the papers were quite good. Many understood the goal and wrote clear descriptions of how they could help their communities develop, even while having a family or career.
One student wrote about how she could improve literacy in her community; another made plans to start a library. One wrote about his children, and he wants to provide them opportunities to play with toys and not simply dirt.
So after three days of listening to Karen & English versions; the course is completed. The students did well and will hopefully apply the practical knowledge of the course to their families, communities, careers, and even their trips to the moon.