a blog for teachers who follow the Master Teacher
The email from our admissions office requested that I travel to Ukraine to meet with secondary school teachers; we would leave in 10 days. At first I said, “No.” But something tugged at my heart and urged, “Go.”
Currently, here at LCC International University, we have sixty students from Ukraine. Eastern cities in their country have been torn apart by conflict. A million people are displaced within the country. Corruption is widespread. The currency has been greatly devalued. The cost of heat forced all of the schools in at least one city to close for the month of January.
Although this would not be my first trip to Ukraine, I felt helpless. What would I say to teachers in a country torn apart by hopelessness? So, before I left, I emailed a few teachers/friends and told them about the trip. I gathered “words of support for Ukraine,” to take along with me. I asked them, “What would you say to teachers in Ukraine today? What encouragement do you have for teachers who daily stand in front of children when their country is at war?” I received many heartfelt responses, which I copied and tucked into my suitcase.
In Ukraine, we were privileged to meet many dedicated teachers and diligent students. Actually, the teachers gave me hope. Despite the turmoil in the east of the country, patriotism was evident, from Ukrainian flags flying on balconies to memorials for those killed in war. However, people told us that they were simply tired of the conflict. While they struggle to make ends meet, they hope that peace will come soon.
At the end of my presentations to teachers, the room became quiet when I said that I had a gift for them. I said that I wanted them to know that teachers had written letters of support and hope to the Ukrainian teachers. When I was able to humbly put these words of encouragement into the hands of the teachers, their eyes expressed gratitude and pure surprise!
Here are a few excerpts from teachers to teachers:
Dear Teachers and Students,
While we in —– can’t begin to imagine the hardships you’re enduring, we can imagine your desire to continue learning, your emphasis on finding common ground in hardship, and your hopes for peace. My hope and prayer for you is to stand resolute, continue educating toward a peaceful outcome, and to find compassion for all those involved.
Greetings from — University,
I want to affirm you in your dedication in teaching your youth in Ukraine. Educating the mind and spirit is an honor to have as a teacher. It is a great privilege, and I admire you in your perseverance throughout the ever looming presence of war within your country. Blessings and peace to you and your country.
To the teachers,
No matter where we teach, and what’s going on in their worlds, we give our students a place to forget about their troubles and improve their futures. We are heroes to them. Keep up the good work and know that you make a difference in bettering the lives of all your students!
I couldn’t DO anything except to encourage, be genuine, bring some moral support, and reflect the Prince of Peace. The lesson that I learned that week was this: Our work is offering quality education for young people in any situation, and as teachers, we can stand in support of other teachers who are facing hardships. I know that my visit didn’t make a big difference, but maybe, just maybe, the letters brought encouragement to the teachers who stand each day in front of young Ukrainians and teach lessons while the turmoil rages on.
Dr. Robin Gingerich, USA, lives in Lithuania and serves at LCC International University as the chair of the English department, which includes undergraduate programs in English and Contemporary Communication, an MA TESOL program, an Intensive English Program, as well as community English programs for adults, teenagers and children. Robin has given professional development workshops for teachers in Lithuania, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia, Albania Turkey, Estonia and Congo.