Briercrest TESOL students spent the summer changing lives

Posted: September 22, 2010

By Amy Robertson

Left to right: Annie Erikson, Tamara Bowering, Oschean Ulmer, Robbie Bancroft, and Olivia Plouffe spent a week in February 2010 teaching English at the University of Winnipeg. Submitted photo.

Five of Briercrest’s senior Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages students spent their summer changing lives overseas.

Annie Erikson, Tamara Bowering, Oschean Ulmer, and Olivia Plouffe went to China to help fill the hole that May 2008’s earthquake left in the Sichuan province’s educational system. More than 7,000 schools collapsed, killing more than 5,000 teachers and students.

The four women joined a team from the English Language Institute – China. For four and a half weeks, they taught 160 middle school English language teachers who survived the quake.

The women left July 7 and returned home August 7. The trip functioned as their mandatory TESOL internship.

Robbie Bancroft, a classmate, chose to go to Afghanistan for his internship.

Before he left July 21, Bancroft said he wasn’t the least bit afraid of what he’d experience, in spite of Afghanistan’s political unrest, isolation, and incredible heat.

“I can’t imagine a safer place to be than if I’m in the Lord’s will,” he said.

Bancroft worked with a non-government organization several hours north of Kabul, far away from the violence.

TESOL is a “really practical way that I can make a difference—change something,” he said. “One man won’t change the world, but maybe the Lord will, and maybe I’ll be a part of it.”

Bancroft returned home at the end of August.

Thirteen other TESOL students completed pre-internships overseas this summer. Twelve partnered with a social enterprise organization in Hong Kong to teach English to children through classes and recreational activities.

Another student chose to partner with a non-government organization in Pakistan to teach English and other subjects to children, teenagers, and adults.