Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Neu Man in An Old World Charm

He's a new man! From the third quarter of last year, he traded his class of secondary students for a roomful of government officials, some of whom could hardly string a sentence in English. He was paid half his salary by the Ministry of Education for six months and is presently on no-pay leave for the remaining six. To help him get by his stint as a volunteer, he gets an allowance as an in-field volunteer under the Singapore International Foundation's Singapore Volunteers Overseas (SVO) programme.

Meet Russel Neu Wee Teck - a secondary school teacher at East Spring Secondary in Tampines who's transplanted himself to teach English to Laotian government officials in Vientiane. He's a volunteer staff at Lao's Institute of Foreign Affairs (IFA) under their Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

His one-year stint will come to an end in the middle of this year, but he harbours hopes to have his stay extended by six months. This driven young man expresses his desire to stay on(subject to MOE's approval) due to how he's introduced curriculum changes to the course which equips the locals with English.

His supervisor at IFA, Ms Phimpa only had a glowing report card for Wee Teck and his dedication to his adult charges. She remarked how he not only made time to help his students outside of classroom hours, but how he even chipped in to help fill sandbags when the Mekong River threatened to break the banks last year.

Wee Teck's proactivity was also evident in his recommendations to tweak the current curriculum and the way he conducted his lessons in very creative ways, such as through music and movies.

Until he hears word on whether his request for an extension is approved, he's continuing to do Singapore proud by being our ambassador in the classroom among government officials of Laos.

It's been a wonderful linguistic exchange between Wee Teck and the locals. His command of Lao is enough to help him get by on a day to day basis at the markets and stalls that line the streets of Vientiane.

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