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My first time teaching at Alta

Thursday, February 6, 2014

After only one term I feel more committed to Alta than ever. My faith in human nature has been renewed. 


Week after week I witness the courage and dedication of people who have discovered the power within themselves to make a difference in their own lives and in those around them. 


Some students have not missed a single session. Most come after a long day at work, juggling commitments and giving up rest time. Their mere presence is testament of their willingness to make learning a priority. If they could put so much effort into improving themselves then I feel a huge responsibility to be a part of that, to be a part of a movement that is so empowering and life giving. 


So from last September I started putting my training to the test. As things unfolded certain truths about the programme struck me. Alta’s lessons are very well thought out. The material is appropriate and relevant to everyday life. The topics range from healthy lifestyles, and good listening skills to relationships and so much more to which the students can readily relate. 


Most, if not all the material is local in content and this impacts on the students. When local food, festivals and even our native language is validated, people are affirmed and their confidence is enhanced. They come to have a positive view of things local and more so about themselves.


I recall the joy on the face of one student who beamed with pride when he saw his own recipe of smoked herring pelau in print. Another one openly admitted it was because of Alta that he had stopped smoking for more than two years. He assured us that if he didn’t know before, he was sure now that he had to will power to quit permanently. There is so much learning taking place on different levels in an Alta classroom, some of it unconsciously and some indirectly. 


The journey is different for each person. Some need a little more attention and the opportunity to realise their potential, others simply need someone to believe in them. But there is one thing common to all of which I am certain, everyone benefits from the classes, students and tutors. Nothing can beat the thrill when a student is able to read new words or spell new words correctly because they have applied a skill previously taught. Any little improvement brings about a deep sense of fulfilment. 


Alta is very well organised and there is a lot of support. I am still learning and refining my tutoring skills, always looking for more effective ways to reach the students, but I feel confident knowing there are more experienced tutors who are always ready to jump in if ever there is any difficulty. There is an abundance of resource material, books and games which are readily available to reinforce skills. ALTA also caters to differing needs. There were a couple of students who only needed help with spelling so they were referred to a programme designed specially for that. Others have been encouraged to join the Reading Circle. 


The first term whizzed by. We ended with a wonderful Christmas party with delicious food prepared by the students. It was so touching when some students shared what ALTA meant to them. It was clear they had realised something of great importance, that they had the will to conquer set backs and the power to transform their own lives. I had also benefitted tremendously. The most valuable lesson being, it is enriching the lives of others and my own life is enriched. 


(Written by Rosemarie Olliverre)


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