Monday, March 22, 2010
Teaching English in Gabon
So now I am an English teacher. Last week I started teaching English classes to the Gabonese military on one of the local bases here in Libreville, Gabon. It’s part of a larger training program that is sponsored by the US military.
This is pretty standard when working with any small US Embassy; everybody pitches in to get done whatever is necessary.
The class is a combination of local military personnel and civil servants. This first class was an introduction to me, so I spoke with them a little bit about my hometown, NYC.
It was interesting to get their perspective on my life at home. They can’t grasp the concept of so many people living together, (why is NYC so big?), or what different seasons are like (there are no seasons on the equator), or trying to understand why we work so hard (isn’t that bad for your health?).
As is typical, everyone wanted to know about crime in NYC (how dangerous is it?). I found it unusual that a large portion of the class associated crime in NY with the Spanish speaking population. I think it must be a local misunderstanding that comes from news about South American and Mexican drug cartels. There really is no exposure to other cultures and/or languages in Gabon.
There were a lot of questions about the site of the World Trade Center and what it was like being there during 9/11. As well as the usual stuff like what is the American dream, how do I get a job, how do I get a green card, etc.?
I have to come up with some more topics for conversation…they have language basics, now it’s just about practicing and getting comfortable with dialogue over the next few weeks. I’ll have to get someone to mail me a collection of magazines for them to practice.