Old Conflicts & New Families

An Excerpt from Caleb Giesbrecht’s Blog: Caleb Andrew (Trinity Western University, BC, Canada)

Almost 2 weeks ago, the students and myself on the program came back from a travel study to Israel/Palestine to study the historic conflict taking place in the holy land. It was one of the most eye opening experiences I’ve ever been a part of, and was equally as amazing as it was challenging. We got to hear from some incredible speakers on both sides of the Arab/Israeli conflict and their opinions on the cause and solution to the conflict.
Along with the lectures and speakers, we got to experience the sites that the holy land has to offer, such as: the Old City of Jerusalem (including the Wailing Wall, but excluding the Dome of the Rock), the Sea of Galilee, Bethlehem, Hebron and heaps of places that were mentioned in the Bible. If you were following the news during the time we were there, you’ll know that we were there at an extremely high time of tension, where stabbings, shootings and demonstrations were abundant throughout Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. However, we were totally safe, and there was never a time where I felt that I was in real danger from either side of the conflict. It was a memorable experience that I will never forget.
This week was also the last week for our service projects, that myself and my fellow students have been participating in once a week since the start of the semester. I got the incredible privilege to serve a pastor in the area and his ministry to Christian Iraqi refugees. These incredible people have fled their homes within the past 2 years to Amman, Jordan because of the heightened conflict happening near their homes in Iraq. What did I do you might ask? Well folks I taught English. That’s right. Caleb, who is nearly illiterate in his reading English, poor in his written English, and who talks like a walking twitter handle was going to teach people ESL. I was just as scared as you are reading that sentence.
Not gonna lie, the first few weeks were super tough. I have the genetic makeup and personality to be a teacher, but I don’t have a creative bone in my body to come up with material and present it. Luckily, I had some help from volunteers (one from California, and one from the Netherlands) who helped me create lesson plans week after week. Many times my students would ask me tough questions like, why sentences are created the way they are, and what certain words mean (try explaining the word “think” without using the word “think” or “thought” to describe it). I’ve been speaking English for 23 years and I still don’t know how to use words properly. This has made me come to the conclusion that English sucks, and I commend whoever has attempted or succeeded in learning it. My hats off to you.
However, as the weeks went on, I found my groove. I learned how my friends operated in learning, and I grew very close to them. It warmed my heart to watch them be so passionate to learn English, and it warmed my heart even more watching them succeed. Today was the last day of my ESL teaching, and I was extremely sad to leave my new family I had made in just 2 months. They have taught me so much about being grateful and happy in every circumstance, and to persevere through the trials life throws at you. I hope to one day meet up with them again (Insha-allah), as they have impacted my life in so many ways.
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