Technology as a teaching adventure

In early February, a young Sister in Vietnam wanted to improve her English, especially her pronunciation and writing. She contacted her aunt Sister Monica Duong in St. Louis and asked if she knew anyone who could help her achieve these goals. Sister Monica asked me if I would be willing to take on this task.

When I answered yes, she had her niece Sr. Jacinta get in touch with me. We began our hourly sessions using technology on Facebook Messenger four times a week. We each watched the others’ lips carefully to see how to say the words in English. We laughed through our many struggles.

Challenges of technology

Technology has been a challenge, but we both persevered and Sr. Jacinta has been able to achieve her goals. We began the lessons by connecting with the Congregation and obtaining the materials from Rome that were created for the Inter-Continental Assemblies (ICA).

Sister Jacinta struggled at first to understand my accent and the content of the materials. However, she worked hard and did very well.

When Covid-19 restrictions in Vietnam were lifted she returned to her ministry five days a week. We changed our sessions to Saturdays, with homework assigned on other days during the week.

Sister Jacinta was missioned to a new community in the south of Vietnam (Ca Mau) this summer. Internet connections became more challenging there and caused many new problems with technology. Once again, we persevered and studies continued. She introduced me to Pauline and Maria, the two Sisters in her new community. Soon they were also asking me for help with English and began classes with me in August.

Using technology to prepare for ICA

All three of the young Sisters wanted help with English to prepare for ICA for the East Asia Pacific Circle. The questions they received were a great challenge for them to understand and answer in English. This became an even greater struggle than I could have anticipated, but their enthusiasm for learning encouraged me to keep going.

We have gained mutual learnings from this adventure in technology. We broadened our understanding of each other’s culture. My understanding of the Vietnamese culture has helped me step out of my western way of thinking into a rich Asian way. Their love of the congregation is inspiring, and their commitment to our Good Shepherd Mission has enriched mine. They are able to articulate this in their own words, and their understandings are richer than words can express in English.

In closing let me give a quote from one of them; “I do not know in my mind, but I understand in my heart.”

What more could we wish for from an adventure in learning English with technology?

Read more about our Sisters in Vietnam on pages 23-24 of the Nov-Dec issue of Items of Interest.

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Virginia Gordon

Virginia Gordon

Sister Virginia Gordon has served in many Apostolic leadership and support roles with Sisters of the Good Shepherd. She is currently missioned in St. Louis, where she works with and mentors international Good Shepherd Sisters while they are studying English. Sr. Virginia has a special place in her heart and prayers for nature and all of God's Creation.