Monday, October 5, 2009

No, but come to my speaking club...

English club is my life’s constant. No matter what projects I may be starting and stopping or seeking out, I always make time for Wednesday at 3:00. It’s a legacy passed down from generation to generation. Before me it was Hanman. Before Hanman it was Spry (I think. Colin maybe? Someone had English club here). Before them, it was… someone. There’s a strong pedigree here.

English Club is my hour to do whatever I want, and for some reason, people keep coming back. There are probably more effective ways to run English clubs. Our format is an hour-long discussion group. I act as a moderator and throw out questions on various themes: the crisis, youth issues, expectations, powerful women. To the dismay of many students, I come up with the theme at about 2:55 on Wednesday based on my life’s circumstances. Bad service at lunch, we’re talking about customer service. Had to wait a long time for a taxi, we’re talking about how you occupy the dead times in life (okay, we haven’t talked about this yet, but we probably could. Phone, think, read? It’s an interesting question.)

Sometimes we have visitors in English Club. Any time there is another volunteer in town, we invite them. This summer when student numbers were low and volunteer numbers were high, I think we had a one to one ratio. Susannah’s been here. Ken multiple times. Joe is no stranger. Scott the same. Justin’s made the rounds. And I’m sure many more. Couchsurfers also stop by. They have interesting stories and viewpoints and are living evidence of the website I plug about once a month in club. (Do you want to practice English, host a foreigner!) (Couchsurfing now limited by new in-country policy, more on that in another blog.)

Sometimes we have activities in addition to the discussion. Mafia seemed popular when we played it. (Did you know mafia was actually invented in Moscow? Check it out on Card games are fun, including English-teaching-modified Circle of Death. One time we played Post-secret, and the secrets they shared were actually really interesting. We come up with inventions, business ideas, and advertisements. One time we even trimmed my beard (after the group fortunately voted for me to keep it rather than shaving it.)

Lately English Club has been growing a little too big for its britches. (Have you ever typed the word britches before? That can’t possibly be spelled right.) Our largest classroom comfortably fits 12 people. We could rearrange it and have more space, but we don’t have anywhere to put the tables. Therefore it fits 12. Last week we squeezed twenty-two into it for English club. The week before we had twenty. Next week I expect thirty people with the Americans visiting. We may move it to the park across the street. They’re coming up with the lesson plan though, but I’ll be guiding the newbies along the road.

(Update: 31 people showed up when the new volunteers came. We moved into two classrooms. This week…. We’ll see.)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hello, Michael from Martha at the Stevenson Center. Next week is ISU Homecoming 2009..."Rock the Red". I am not sure whether to rock'n roll or paint red rocks? Sounds like you are rocking in grand tradition at the English Club. I stop and think and feel hope because of your commitment to peaceful assistance in our world. Keep up the great work!