A week in Sokolov

Tomorrow marks one week in Sokolov. Of course, I’m going to Prague tomorrow for our first TeachOverseas retreat with all the other Czech teachers. But I thought it might be nice to tell you about my town a bit.

I live in a flat i.e. a very boring looking communist-era apartment building. 12th floor. Also our building is painted green which is helpful because it’s hard to get confused with others. If I had to describe our flat in one sentence it would be this. “The builders decided to install new windows and doors to the balconies and then decided the flats were good as is.”If I had another sentence I would say, “Thanks for the partial-renovation, guys.”

In all honesty we have all that we need and plenty of space so it’s lovely.

Sokolov has a large public pool. Will have to explore visiting that before it gets cold.

It has some very lovely parks and a sweet bike path that is SUPER long because I think it connects to other towns. Hello easy training.

Czechs really like in-line skating. I’ve seen more people do it in the last week then I had in the last ten years in America.

My gymnazium (high school) is 10 years old but looks brand new and is HUGE. I will share a huge office with another English teacher. It is sweet. My basic school (middle school) is undergoing renovation and I don’t visit it until this Monday. I’ll tell you more then.

We got introduced to a sweet little ice cream stand that is cheap, easy to order from, and on the way home from school today. Nice.

Sokolov also has a 5,000 person soccer stadium that is pretty sweet looking. Hopefully I’ll attend some games there.

I went to Czech church this past Sunday. In Czech. We had a guy, who is very cool, translate the sermon for us. It’s nice.

So that’s it, all is well. I’ll post pictures of Prague on Sunday night hopefully. Teaching starts next week!

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“Go into all the World”

Written August 16th, 2009

Training ended this morning with a service. There was worship, a message, we took communion, got our TEFL certificates and had a time of commissioning prayer. And so here I sit and never has the great commission rung in my head so loudly and clearly, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…” It’s exciting and daunting all at the same time. Part of me feels profoundly unworthy while another part can’t stop crying in thankfulness to God for all he has done for me. Training was hard but more than any temporary discomforts and stresses, it affirmed what I’m about to do in a number of ways.

Firstly, it gave me training and practice in being a teacher. This was probably the most stressful part of training. Making lesson plans in a manner of a couple hours and then teaching 40-minute lessons was so different from anything I’ve ever done. I still don’t feel very good at it. But by the end I could see and feel myself getting comfortable with it. I started getting creative, using ideas I was learning about while adding things to them to make them even better. Teaching will be my central ministry and activity overseas. I can say with confidence I am qualified now to teach and I am even more excited to do so.

Secondly, it affirmed in my heart how important my time in South Africa was. TeachOverseas did a superb job covering all the issues that living overseas entails. During many of these sessions I kept saying, “Man I wish someone had told me that before last year.” I learned A LOT in South Africa the hard way, that is, through experience. I can’t be sure but I think if I didn’t have my time in South Africa last year I think this experience would be almost terrifying in the enormity of it all. This will be a lot different than South Africa was but it has still prepared me in so many important ways. For that I am beyond thankful.

Finally, training allowed me to get to meet my team of fantastic teachers that I get to go overseas with in Central Europe, especially my teammate Derick. Derick and I will be sharing a flat in a small town three hours west of Prague. It is decidedly isolated with almost no English speakers whatsoever. However we are blessed to have a TeachOverseas Alumni teaching in our town as well as 4 other female teachers in a town only 30 minutes from us. These are all decidedly awesome people and will be a great source of fellowship and community when times become difficult there.

This is way too long of an entry but I’ll close with this. The training is complete, the visas secured, the plane tickets bought, I am ready. It is time to go.

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Training and TeachOverseas/ESI

Written August 6th, 2009

I thought it would be good to write a bit about TeachOverseas and what training has been like.

First, TeachOverseas is known overseas as Educational Services International. ESI has always been its name, it only changed its name stateside recently to better reflect what they do. I think it has also served to bring more teachers into the program. If I mention ESI keep in mind I mean TeachOverseas.

There are a number of things I’ve learned here that make me like ESI even more than I did before.  First, they are open to Christians of all backgrounds and denominations while maintaining a solid Biblical mission and basis. Secondly, this is a very diverse organization. By this I mean there are young singles (like myself) but also married couples, families, and older singles as well. Anyone who wants to teach is welcome.  Finally, while the training is admittedly rather quick (a month) it covers things comprehensively.

Every morning we have Teaching English as Foreign language (TEFL) sessions. This goes over the ins and outs of the teaching part of our work. After a general session we usually have a region-specific session about what life will be like teaching where we will be. I’m in the Central European Region along with Hungary and Slovakia. In the afternoons we usually have big general sessions about living overseas. My time in South Africa has richly informed this part of training for me and I am truly thankful for it. Recently we have started language and cultural training about our specific countries.

In the evenings we usually go to Practicum. This is where we teach people English at a local community center English. This was a nerve-wracking thing at first but fantastic practice for our time overseas. In addition we have gotten to meet some great local people and help them with their English.