Lee News

TESOL Majors Serve in Colombia



A group of 10 Lee University junior and senior TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) majors recently returned from Cota, Colombia. They accompanied Dr. Chris Blake, associate professor of TESOL and Linguistics, and Dr. Jimmy Harper, campus pastor, to serve and to provide English language support to 250 Colombian schoolchildren.

The school where the group worked is an outreach of the Provision de Amor (Provision of Love) ministry started by Pastor Rosalba Perez over 15 years ago which runs a safe house for children affected by drugs and human trafficking. Provision de Amor was the focus of Lee University's 2014 Missions Week.

“Our journey to Colombia was one of deep significance,” said Harper. “We worked in the church, did outreach to provide food and clothing for families in need, taught English in a school of 250 students, and spent quality time with the girls who live in the safe house. When we returned to Lee, we truly left behind a part of our family—some of the most genuine, godly, compassionate and loving people I've ever known.”

While in Colombia, the Lee students provided English instruction designed to meet the unique needs of the students at each grade level. The group also provided after-school English enrichment activities for the children.

“I’ve been waiting for this experience since Pastora Rosalba came and spoke at Lee,” said Sarah Grady, a senior TESOL major who helped to inspire the trip after hearing Perez during Missions Week in 2014. “I never could have imagined how great of a team we would have and how many relationships we would build. This trip truly has been an example of a promise fulfilled by God in my life."

According to Blake, many of the children in Colombia have difficult lives, come from poor circumstances, and find it difficult to imagine a life outside of their situations.

“Since living in the safe house run by Pastora Rosalba, these children’s lives have been transformed through the healing power of the Lord’s love,” said Blake. “They are able to develop relationships with caring adults who teach them responsibility and how to respect themselves as the young women that God has made them to be. The schoolteachers and volunteers provide the children with a quality education and help them to dream for big goals in their lives.”

The Lee students prepared for the journey by taking two courses that counted for their TESOL major. One course, taught by Blake, prepared them with practical skills for teaching English as a second language. The second course, taught by Harper, prepared students for practical social ministry in challenging contexts.

“My experience in Colombia was life changing, and I cannot wait to go back,” said senior TESOL major Caitlen Zettwoch. “It opened my eyes to how abundantly we are blessed in the United States. I felt so much love from the people of Cota and definitely saw God moving.”

For more information about Lee University’s TESOL program, contact Dr. Blake at cblake@leeuniversity.edu.
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