Those of you on my newsletter list will most likely remember my Page 4 call-for-help on several items. One of those was a photo of a sparsely-furnished room, with the caption “Help fill our new English Language Resource Center. Email for details.”
So let me go ahead here, now that I have a little time in the Detroit airport before heading onto the flight to China.
Many Years Waiting
The English Language Resource Center has been my dream for 15 years, ever since moving to Luzhou (loo-joe) Vocational and Technical College to teach in 2002. Our old campus had no rooms available for such things but with the move to a new campus last September, a large room was allotted to the foreign teachers to use as they wished.
In my previous school in Guangxi, we had such a center which had been started by the VSO, Volunteer Service Organization. The volunteers who arrived with VSO are Canadians, Australians and Brits. This is a government-run organization of the countries mentioned above. In America, we have the Peace Corp Volunteers. Both groups do the same sort of thing, being sent to smaller schools in China to teach at the college level and raise the standards of education among the students they teach.
The English Center we had in my small town of Longzhou (lohng-jo) was a lovely set-up. It was in one room, on the 7th floor of the main classroom building, and overlooked the mountains of the town. The VSO teachers had equipped it with English books, DVDs, a TV set and DVD player, magazines and other items. They created an English Center club of students who were in charge of the center, open every day from 4 – 6 p.m. The students cleaned the room, made sure materials were returned after check-out, monitored those who came for visits, held special activities to promote the Center and hung out there with others to practice speaking English.
I added to this center during the 3 years I was there by asking for donations of games or money to buy what was needed. Scrabble, Boggle, Monopoly, Uno, Magic 8 Ball and other fun items were carefully placed on the shelves for student use. The biggest hit was the Magic 8 Ball (ask a “yes/no” question, shake it and receive an answer) and Uno.
This room also was the one where I met with students who wanted extra work for upcoming tests, to get to know me better in an informal situation or had questions about their language study. What a great use of my time! And so convenient.
Plans for My College’s English Language Resource Center
For the 2016 Fall semester, Jackie Zubin (the Peace Corp volunteer) and I were too busy with the campus move to concentrate on organizing and filling the room which was allotted to us. Actually, room we were given was designated as our office, not really a resource center, but we were told we could decorate and do whatever we wanted with our space so we decided the Center would be a great idea. Another reason we put this on hold was due to money. Funds were needed which we didn’t have.
But here the Spring Semester has arrived, we’ve already settled in, and we are ready to get this project off the ground. Not only do we have the time and energy, but funding as well. While in America, I received several birthday monetary gifts and special “use-as-you-need” checks from many United Methodist Women units and United Methodist churches who receive my newsletter. These donations have certainly added up. Now it’s time to put them to use to create a wonderful space for students and English language faculty alike.
What’s the Set-up?
Jackie and I discussed last semester the room’s equipment inclusion and organization. Via email, we are planning to devote all of March to getting this thing off the ground. We’ll have volunteer students from the English Association to give input and suggest decore, plus sign up to run and monitor the room with our help. At present, we’d like to begin by purchasing two couches, 30 stackable stools, 3 more book cases (we have 4 at present), 5 foldable tables, 2 stow-away cots (for teachers living off-campus to have siesta time during our daily 2 ½ hour lunch breaks), cleaning supplies for upkeep and decorative wall hangings to make the room look inviting. At some point, we are hoping the school will pitch in and purchase a flatscreen TV for movie-watching. We’ve been promised 2 new computers as well but that might take awhile.
This special addition to the campus will bring great joy to all who use it and become the perfect place for everyone to enjoy in an atmosphere of learning, relaxation and fun. I can’t wait to share the pictures of our new Center with those of you who follow my blog.
Thank you so much for your interest in my website and also to those who sent monetary gifts my way in the month of January. Email at any time! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Blessings and Ping Ahn (Peace)!