As our June 1st start date for the fellows program approaches, I’m starting to feel (not surprisingly) more and more excited about starting our work in Mauritius. I’ve never been to Africa before, and I’ve never been presented with an opportunity even remotely comparable to the one working with ELI Africa this summer represents. I’ve long had a strong interest in teaching and youth education, and I’ve long hoped to conduct service-related work in an African nation. Now, through ELI Africa, I’ll now be able to achieve both these long-standing aspirations—and I could not be more eager to begin our program in Mauritius.
Yet as my excitement continues to grow, so, too, do the anxieties that inevitably accompany working abroad for two months. Will I be able to adjust to my new surroundings with relative ease? How much of an issue will the language barrier be in interacting with students? What can I do to ensure my educational project proves interesting and engaging? Before heading off the Mauritius in just eight weeks, I still have so much do to and so many questions to address.
Most importantly, I need to continue developing the curriculum for the poetry project I will be executing during our time in Mauritius. As the son of a creative writing professor at a local college, I’ve always had an interest in writing and poetry, and hope to instill a similar interest through my program this summer. More specifically, I plan to teach and work with students on creating their own English poems, and encourage them to create drawings, photographs, and other forms of artistic expression to accompany their work. By the end of the eight weeks, I hope each of the students with whom I work to have their own poetry portfolio, and to (hopefully) have them all present their best work in a more public setting.
Of course, much of the planning and organizational details must still be ironed before we set out—but I doubt my excitement to participate in the fellows program will ever be dampened by any potential anxieties I’ll face in the weeks to come.