Tag Archives: ESOL


There is always, always a plan.  Even when I try to let life lead, there is always a plan.  Even when I don’t know exactly what the outcome will be, there are a number of options.  Like the doors on a gameshow, I expect the outcome to my big life decisions to fall within the confines of one of them, or some combination of the lot.  This time has been very different.

When the idea to write for a living came along, it was as though, for a moment, I suddenly had sea legs.  Is that even legal?  Surely I’m not one of the beautiful people.  I’m not someone who gets to spend her days creating.  Surely my mind isn’t independent enough, I’m not relentless enough, and after all, who on Earth wants to read what I’ve got to write?

Alas, I’m over a year into this endeavor and I can say that, without a doubt, I’ve not yet figured out the answers to any of those questions, or calmed any of those doubts (with the exception of that question on legality.  Apparently it is.  You heard it here first, beloved readers).

Don’t get me wrong – this post is not some big fishing festival – you read me, ergo, I’m gonna go ahead and assume you think I’m wonderful, either because of my uncanny ability to whittle words or because you just love me from way back.  I’ll take either one.  As to the editors I’ve contacted, the feedback has been…limited.  I’ve sold a few articles, I’ve written several more for free, and I keep on keeping on.  But there has been more than a little hubris along the way.

See, the first thought was this:

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Like Ampalaya with Mangga.

Last Tuesday marked the end of my visits to the local prison.  I know I’ve been more focused on explaining the development of the course…I thought that was the thing that I’d leave behind – the more “sustainable” part of my contribution – so my focus has been on that.  But the trips themselves have been more important to me than I think I realized.

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Easing into our last month

Where, oh where to begin?  The last few weeks have been filled with wonderful surprises and terrible disappointments…all of it guaranteed to make me a better person…right?  The truth is that a lot of the things I thought would never actually happen just accidentally – or intentionally – well, did.

Things are moving right along with Organization B…nearly finished with the handbook, and while I know that this 5-year publication won’t be out before I go (L doesn’t think it’ll be finished by the end of the year), we’ve made a good start.  When I first began working with the organization, N made it very clear that her team needed a lot of support in documentation, and I suggested a day-long training session, with a follow-up day or 1/2 day thereafter.  Initially she responded positively to this, but of course, the dates for which it was set were always cancelled, and it never really came to fruition.  But I think the vast amount of work needed to make this publication a reality is becoming clearer, and to that end it has been decided that a Writeshop will take place over two days next week.  But the truth is, as I get closer to finishing this handbook (which is currently over 80 pages, and will be roughly 100 when finished), it occurs to me that there was a time when I thought I wouldn’t be able to contribute to the systems and procedures of the organization at all…

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Drums keep pounding…

Time is flying – one day at a time, but it rushes so quickly…it seems incredible to me that in less than four months we’ll be sitting in France trying for the life of us to figure out what next…although, who knows?  Perhaps the answer to that question will come sooner than we think.  For the moment, I’m just not over-thinking the future…

And with good reason – my present is chock-full…rarely do I check everything on my to-do list off before closing up shop for the day.  My work with Organization C has really narrowed to the ESOL jail course.  We’re still attending fortnightly, and I’m still struggling to find funding, but there has been a lot of progress.  For one, the prison warden has requested copies of the lesson plans so that she and the other guards can work with the young people when we’re not there, which is excellent.  And we’ve been able to convince a local university to send us some of their students needing on the job training (OJT) as part of their curriculum to work with the program.  I’m spending the whole of this week finishing off the roughly 3.7 gazillion worksheets, dialogues, vocabulary lists, spelling tests, procedure and guidance notes, etc. so that when they do commence it will be a bona fide course with all its many parts in place.  If we can somehow come up with enough funding to cover weekly attendance for three years, my heart will swell and I will walk away from Organization C satisfied.  3 1/2 months and counting…

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