Egyptian Learning Curve

TEACH Journal of Christian Education, Dec 2012

Herbert Bergmann

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Egyptian Learning Curve

TEACH Journal of Christian Education Eg y ptian Learning Cur ve Herbert Bergmann 0 0 This Reflections, Impressions & Experiences is brought to you for free and open access by - Egyptian learning curves Herbert Bergmann Theology student, Avondale College of Higher Education, Cooranbong, NSW “Iwas procrastinating from doing an essay one night and for some reason I came across the volunteer website, searched through the calls, saw a Worship Leader position, and before I knew it I was in Egypt Travel is fun isn’t it? We all have big dreams Nile Union Academy is a Seventh-day Adventist about travelling to distant foreign and exotic boarding academy in a town called El Gabal El Asfar lands. For some it may be to Paris or Rome, just on the outskirts of Cairo. We have 135 students others it may even be to the Opera House. We half being Egyptian, half being from South Sudan. all have our places that if we were given the Egypt’s population is just over 81 million people, and opportunity we would dream of going. I want you the population of practicing Adventists are just over for a second to imagine an exotic place you have 500. It’s illegal to proselytise so the School is Egypt’s visited. (If you haven’t travelled much think of primary source of evangelism. an exotic destination you have always dreamed Egypt was very different to what I initially of going!) Can you remember what the people expected. For starters the pyramids are grey not were like? What did you eat? How did people golden. There was a lot more trash than I expected, respond to foreigners? Was the Exchange Rate there are places in the world that have worse in your favour? Now imagine if you lived in that traffic than Sydney during peak hour, and Cairo is country for a year. You were totally immersed in much hotter than I expected! But more importantly that culture, away from family and friends, away Egyptians are some of the most beautiful and from the comforts of home; simply because God friendliest people I’ve ever met in my life. placed a call on your heart to do the work that is My job was to be a PE Teacher and the needed. Welcome to the life of volunteer service Music / Worship Leader for the campus. I have never learning. taught a class in my life. I hate sport. I was always chosen last for the sport team. Was I in way over my My name is Herbert; I am 21 years old and am head? You bet I was! I did not feel prepared at all. currently studying theology at Avondale College of I felt that I would be the worst teacher in the entire ”Egypt? It’s actually a funny story. My passion is to do to learn how to be a teacher. I had three days. I tried Higher Education. I have just come back to Australia world. from being a volunteer at Nile Union Academy on I’m going to share some of my experiences as the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt. You may be asking why a teacher. Most teachers have four years of training music ministry, and I was procrastinating from doing to prepare my classes. I asked other teachers how to a Systematic Theology essay one night and for teach. I even tried positive thinking by telling myself some reason during my ‘study break’ I came across I knew what I was doing. Nothing could prepare me the South Pacific Division’s Volunteer website (www. for what came ahead though. The first day of class I searched through the came. The students lined up. I ignored my fears calls and I came across a Worship Leader position and went with my gut. I told the students to run laps! in Egypt. Without one thought of consideration I See, I learnt a valuable lesson that day. The trick to emailed the principal, and before I knew it one month teaching is to act as if you know what you’re doing later I was in Egypt. even if you have no clue. [Photographs: Herbert Bergmann] 58 | TEACH | v6 n2 Days went by, weeks went by, and months went by. Each day I had a better idea of what I was doing. Each day I trusted in God who alone could have gotten me through. The end of semester eventually arrived, and it was time for the Teacher Evaluations to be filled in by the students. Mine essentially said, “Learn to teach”. I laughed it off, and thankfully, by God’s grace, I did a much better job in the second semester. I did have some positive experiences, however. I was a worship leader for the campus so this meant I ran all the music services. I taught four music lessons a day, taught choir at night time, and ran other leadership classes teaching the students how to be a good leader. Being a volunteer teacher means that people don’t expect you to be the perfect teacher; the more important factor is that you’re present. During my spare time I invested in building relationships with the students. When you take time to get to know your students it’s surprising how forgiving they can be in the classroom. I grew so much from this experience. It challenged me in ways that I never ever imagined I would be challenged. I learnt not to feel sorry for the students when I disciplined them, and learned not to ‘people please’ by changing the grades of the whole class so that one student wouldn’t fail! But most of all I learnt that trusting in God is the only way you will get through. Take it one day at a time. When you feel as though you can’t take another step, God gives you the strength just to put that next foot forward. I will always remember my time in Egypt. Please join me in praying for Nile Union Academy in its changing and challenging context. And if God asks you to ‘volunteer’, choose to ‘grow’ by following His lead. TEACH “Ilearnt not to feel sorry for the students when I disciplined them, and to not ‘people please’ by changing the grades of the whole class so one student wouldn’t fail!

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