One year ago Sam and Kassie Posladek, short-term missionaries, arrived in Barranquilla to work with the four Colombian Covenant Elementary Schools and to work with the Colombia Mission as Business ventures in Colombia. Sam has been helping out and partnering with some of the Business as Mission projects on the coast. Yet this letter is focusing on Kassie, who with Sam’s strong and dedicated support, has been working with the four Covenant Elementary School staffs to produce a quality English language curriculum that can be effectively used in the schools. The hope is that with Kassie’s education and background in second language learning, and with first hand knowledge of the English abilities of the teachers (whose abilities have been greatly improved because Kassie and Sam have focused with them in this area) the schools will have a tailor made English language teaching curriculum just for their needs in their situations.
Each of the schools is located in low-class, impoverished neighborhoods where providing quality education in a positive and wholesome environment is not the norm. Public School education often has overcrowded classrooms, stressful and tense environments (because the society problems are brought into the classroom) and the students don’t always find teachers who have the time to express their interest in who the students are as children, because there are just too many of them in the classroom. The Covenant schools are providing an educationally enhancing alternative. Also, in the Public Schools, trying to work with so many students in one crowded space, when the children are living in difficult home situations, makes the Covenant Christian schools a place where the children are cared for and where the faculty wants to give the students every opportunity to get ahead in life.
The English language has become “the” foreign language taught in schools in Colombia. It is seen as one of the essential tools to have and master in order to move ahead in the working world and to enter a place to help out Colombian society because of the many ways that English is being used in the world. Being bilingual opens doors to many employment and education opportunities. So, what Kassie and Sam are working on with the Covenant school teachers in Barranquilla and Soledad is one important part of the educational curriculum, of the many that the Christian schools are providing, which will give the children every chance possible to be prepared for their future. Plus, and this is a big plus in our minds, it gives us an opportunity to come alongside and partner with these schools, and the servant-heart teachers and the children and see how God wants to use us in the “bringing the little children to him”.
So this week, six high school students and two adults from the Kingsburg Community Church have been sharing in an English Intensive Week with the students in two of the schools, helping them with basic pronunciation of English. And, they have been opening the doors so that this type of partnership has future possibilities because the school faculties and the Covenant School Foundation can see the benefits of this type of partnership.
One last anecdote: almost two years ago the Covenant School Foundation and school faculties in Barranquilla and Soledad began praying to God and asking him for a partner in the development of their school curriculum, and if possible, in the English part. Just a little over six months later we had arranged for Kassie and Sam to arrive in Barranquilla. When Jader Ochoa, the director of the Foundation informed the faculties of this, he told them, “maybe we are surprised that God answered us so quickly, but God is working all around, in many peoples’ lives, and we need to follow him in how he wants to make this partnership and “coming together” work for his glory.”