Thursday, March 11, 2010

Update from my colleagues trip to Burundi

March 10, 2010
Dear Friends of Burundi,
God did some amazing things that I wanted to share with you. I had the opportunity last week to go to Burundi to meet with 50 educators to plan a National Educational Conference. Here is some of what happened.
We spent approximately 8 hours together on Wednesday planning at the University of Burundi and decided to go to Gitega in the center of Burundi for our conference where it is cooler and less humid. The conference is scheduled for August 3rd-5th. God led us to a Catholic Seminary that was willing to host us and provide three large meeting rooms and 220 dorm rooms. They will also prepare three meals a day and refreshments (for a fee, of course.) Their prices will allow us to offer the conference for about $100 per student.

The delegates to the planning conference discussed issues thoroughly and asked excellent questions. They did at times want to use this forum to convince others of their political views but the moderator brought the discussion back on target and we agreed to focus the conference on direct instruction lesson planning, assessment, differentiation and providing means for 1st-4th grade students to learn to read and write in Kirundi and older students to study French in a way that will assist them to learn content while learning French.

On the last day of the conference we will also provide, for educational leaders, an extension of our discussion at the planning session to brainstorm ways that we can include some of the ideas presented at the conference in teacher education programs within the country and find means to make their schools more fair for those coming from homes where French is not spoken.
One of the special blessings of the trip came on the morning I left Burundi. A visitor to my church in La Mirada four weeks ago mentioned that their daughter was a missionary in Burundi working as an administrator of Discovery School. Their son-in-law contacted me while I was in Burundi and took me to Joy’s school. An important part of what we wanted to present to the 1st-4th grade teachers was a whole language approach where the children help the teacher write stories that are prepared as short reading books. Because children only have their reading text to learn to read in Kirundi, this method will allow students to have additional reading materials and provide teachers with material students can enjoy when they have learned something before the others in the class.
To my amazement, the Kindergarten at the Discovery School prepares student-generated stories for the children to later read. A Burundi teacher leads the development of the stories and assists in making the stories into little booklets. When we had a film crew in Burundi in September/October, I decided that I could not give the instruction for this method and expect a teacher to successfully demonstrate it so had thought we might not be able to present it at the conference. God had other plans and provided a way. Joy volunteered to have her teacher and students filmed to demonstrate how others could use this method to their students’ benefit.
We now have over $5000 toward sending teachers to the conference. God has been so good to us. Thank you for praying for this effort and for many of you that have supported teachers to attend or agreed to sponsor a teacher and director and write to them during the next year. We ask for your continued prayer as we prepare the DVDs for the conference, determine who to invite, secure those who will teach at the conference, and work with the Burundi officials and educators to provide follow-up implementation of the presented ideas.
With great appreciation,


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