This summer we had an intern working with our Christian Day School teaching English. Sasha Gilson came down and spent two months teaching English at the school to aid our English program. She is working on finishing her Masters in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESOL) and wanted to help on a mission field. She is a second cousin of mine but following family custom and due to the age difference, I consider her a niece. She finished her work in Colombia the third week in August and returned to the States to finish her schooling and to begin her job teaching. She left behind a legacy of many lives touched by her kind and sharing heart that will endure far beyond the two months she spent here.
For several years I have been looking for TESOL students to come down and intern with us. We need to improve our English program but we do not have the personnel or funds to do so. An internship seemed the perfect way to do that. But after repeated contacts, no one was willing to come to Colombia and work. I had about given up any hope of securing an intern and had not bothered writing to any schools or individuals this year. It was precisely then that I received an email from Sasha. She had seen some of our publicity that talked about the school and wrote to ask if I would be interested in a summer intern. I was overwhelmed at God’s providence and her enthusiasm. I wrote back immediately and we began making plans for the summer.
Sasha arrived at the end of June and I took her to Villavicencio and set her up in a room we had adapted for her at the school. School was in recess so she began English classes with interested students for that week. Once school started, she was busy teaching from early morning till late in the evening. I had instructed the Colombians to watch out for her as she would not have time to learn bus routes and all in her short time here. They made sure she got what she needed and even took her on several “paseos” or outing to show her some of the interesting things in Colombia.
For the months of July and most of August, she taught constantly in the school and in private English lessons. At first some of the students were not sure about Sasha and her methods, but Sasha soon had made friends with all of the students and things went very well. She was a big help as she could teach perfect phonics and grammar, something our Colombian English teacher was limited in being able to do. As her summer drew to an end, the students were so sad to see her go that they even threatened, only half jokingly, to go on strike if she left. It took us all morning to be able to leave the school the day I picked her up as everyone wanted to say goodbye. It was a time of a lot of hugs and a few tears as everyone had come to love and appreciate her so much.
Sasha is now back home in Virginia with her husband Patrick and is working at her job as a teacher and finishing her last year of school. But she remains in the hearts of her students and the other teachers here in Colombia for the great job she did and for her sharing heart. When I was at the school this week, I was mobbed by students asking about Sasha and sending greetings. We thank God for Sasha and all she did for us. We hope that after her positive experience we may now be able to get summer interns down on a regular basis.