Monday, March 26, 2007

"See first..."

We’ve finally got moving, thanks to the persistence of whip-cracker Ivy!

Phase 2 of our community service at Pangsapuri Sri Semarak lowcost flats in Setapak kicked off a couple of weeks ago with English language classes for children 7 – 15 yrs. We were pleasantly surprised by the response, eager children seated (books and pencil boxes in hand) and all raring to go after they received notice about Free English Language Tuition.

It’s a mixed crowd, largely Malays, with a sprinkling of Indians and Chinese, totaling almost 60 in the first week, and several more in the second week. First, we get the kids to warm up with preliminary icebreakers, and then they break into smaller classes. That’s when our own teens get down to business, each to a class, reviewing their school text, and helping them with reading, writing, and speaking English. What’s exciting was the enthusiasm of our own 8 youths who participated as tutors. They’ve been told we’re not majoring on textbook studies; but more importantly we’re chipping away at walls and developing inter-ethnic relationships.

At a debefriefing session back in church, we got mostly positive feedback as each teen related their own experience – often hilarious – and commented on special problems encountered. I think it proved how much an opportunity to look beyond oneself can galvanise even the most self-absorbed youth into action. It’s a delight knowing that they’re building bridges in a communal society that seems almost irreparably fractured today, signaling what’s possible when churches get involved in our community. Baby steps, but Kingdom work all the same.

It was also interesting to hear responses from the adult residents at Sri Semarak. At a meeting with representatives to consider future plans, most people agreed the English language classes were a good idea, except for one. When pressed, he nodded cautiously and said, “See first.”

Certainly it’s too early to say, and his comment reminds us that if we’re going to do any good, we’ll have to make sure we take the long view and run the course. We’re still involved with the senior citizens – warga mas, as they're referred to – from NACSCOM, and now there’s work with the youths as well. I don’t think it’s easy but here we are. I’m passing the word around; we’re open to volunteers to partner our tuition effort - not for education alone, but for work of restoration.

PS: Follow-up with a first person account at Ethan's blog here.

1 comment:

eWe said...

Great job....wish the whole EFC gang would get on with it