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Teaching Ouakam: ISD Service Learning

"My name is Fatou. What is your name?"

"My name is Ibrahimou. It is nice to meet you"

With these simple sentences, a lesson on English introduction began on Ouakam beach. With a few white-boards, pencils and a will to give back, ISD students were given the opporunity to play a new role: the teacher. Their students are eager children, teenagers and adults in Ouakam's Lebou community.

ISD formed its newest Service Learning initiative, “Teaching Ouakam” (T.O.) in cooperation with the Lebou community at Ouakam Beach. The group is comprised of 12 students and four advisors from ISD as well as roughly 25 residents of Ouakam Beach. Each Wednesday after school, ISD students and advisors meet under the trees at the Ouakam Beach community center and teach English to groups of beginner and advanced students from the community. (One Ouakam community member wishes to learn Arabic and is being tutored in the language by one of our Arabic-speaking ISD students.)

The idea for T.O. came from ISD teacher Nevdon Jamgochian who got to know a local fisherman named Musa at the beach last year. Musa told him that he spoke English because Pan-Am airlines used to run an English school in the community and what a positive thing it was for him. Nevdon then talked to students at ISD to determine if there was an interest in working with the beach community and then planned with ISD staff members Gaucher Kadam, Micheal Martrich and Mary Giuliani to make this a reality. After meetings with the village leaders, Gaucher and Nevdon were told that English was what the community could benefit the most from ISD.

After some surprises and early organizational difficulties, T.O. has been a very successful experience thus far. The ISD students have been phenomenal and the Ouakam beach community has been nothing but hospitable and friendly. Our students have taken the lead in organizing lessons and have been proactive in planning. They have reported that this has been a transformative experience. In the future, T.O. hopes to expand its community involvement and make this a long-lasting relationship between the local community and ISD. In turn, the men and women of Ouakam beach have expressed an interest in teaching our students Wolof and show off their reef restoration project to our science classes.

For more information about T.O. or to help with time or donations, please contact Nevdon Jamgochian:

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