This past week we had our annual seminars on learning difficulties with Paul Odham, of Orlando, Florida. He graciously and generously comes down each year to help out with these. Even though he is a recognized expert in the field his generosity and selflessness are what motivates him to see such a great need and help to solve it. When so many others were afraid to even come to Colombia, he returns each year with great enthusiasm. This past week, we had more than seven hundred teachers in our seminars where we covered the topic of learning disabilities in general and then honed in on dyslexia specifically. It was a great session.
We would begin our seminars in the morning and then hold one four hour seminar in the morning and another four hour seminar in the afternoon. We would then hold a third seminar for parents in the evening hours. Our days would run from seven in the morning till nine at night with hardly enough of a break to grab a bite to eat.We had great interest and Paul did an excellent job covering the material.After each session we were besieged with questions that often ran into the next seminar. The teachers were so interested in the material and appreciative of the opportunity to learn.
When we began these seminars there were no teachers with any training in the topic in the entire city of Villavicencio; a city with more than half a million residents. They were aware of the need, but had not had any opportunity to study the topic in their university training.At first the local ministry of education was suspicious, but after observing the seminars began to whole heatedly support and encourage us.This served as a means to secure a greater appreciation for our work in the Christian day school and our stature as educators. It also created a positive image of the church as well.
We see these seminars as a social service to the community. But at the same time we inject Biblical truth into our message as we speak of our philosophy of education. We present every child as God’s creation and worthy of love and respect and deserving of our best efforts to help him or her learn. The seminars are exhausting and we end the week ready to collapse. But they are rewarding and beneficial as well. We look forward to them every year as does the educational community in Villavicencio.This morning I put Paul on the plane for his trip home. He was tired and week as he had suffered an attack of “Montezuma’s Revenge” just after finishing the seminars. We were sorry he became ill, but even with that, he left excited about what we had accomplished and already talking about a return trip for more teaching. We thank him for his help and the church in Winter Park for sending him to us.