Igniting a Flame in my Community
To give you an example of how motivated my host family is to learn English there was one Sunday I went out for couple of hours in the morning and came back to find that my host mother had learned nearly 50 new vocabulary words.
My host mom and sister had taken the teaching
materials that Peace Corps gave me and my counterparts and studied the pictures
until they knew all of them. During lunch my sister quizzed my mom and she aced
every word. I went out again that afternoon and came back to find my host
sister on the floor of the living room with my world map and geography books
sprawled out on the floor.
I don’t know what I was expecting before I came to Myanmar, but my host family and the people in my community are some of the most hard-working, dedicated people I have ever met with amazing stamina and a value for education like I’ve never seen before.
My host mother studies her English phrase book for hours a day. She has perfect attendance to every speaking class I have. She and my students treat every handout or teaching material like precious gold. She teaches my neighbors if they aren’t able to make it to my speaking class.
I remember when I first moved in. My host mom could only speak a few words. She would say, “I cannot speak English.” I told her not to worry. I told her that by the end of these two years she’ll be fluent -- which I guess she took very seriously. Now my host mom and I are able to have conversations in English. I asked her once why she wanted to learn English. She told me, “I want to go to other countries. I want to visit Jami in America.” I am blown away by her dedication to learn English and humbled to know that I am her motivation.
Watching her learn English I am reminded of what William Butler Yeats once said. He said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” Peace Corps is tough and two years is short. There are days I’m impatient, frustrated, bite off more than I can chew, or wonder why I am here. On these days I cannot forget the reason I am here: that the people of Myanmar have so much potential and place such a value on education and that I am here to simply ignite the flame for people like my host mother.