Tag Archives: english

Competition for English

Community engagement can come in various forms.  Service is one of the best ways internationalesawyer engages with the community.  Service is a vast domain and can include simple participation in town hall meetings, or formally serving on a board.  Recently internationalesawyer was asked to serve as an expert panel judge for an English competition among university students at CFPEM International located in Ouagadougou.  This is not the first time that internationalesawyer has partnered with this university.  In the past the director of the school approached internationalesawyer to be a monthly guest lecturer to business students. The objective there was to give lectures in English and organize career counseling (i.e. practice interviews) to students in fields such as accounting.

When approached to be a judge for the English competition, there was only one answer…YES! The competition included an essay and oral presentation in which competing students from CFPEM were given topics that ranged from improving the school system in Burkina Faso to the current epidemic of Ebola affecting West Africa.  As one of the 3 judges, we made the rules and criteria. The 7 candidates all had 5 minutes to present their topic, and then 1 min 30 seconds for each question.  The candidates were scored on criteria that included grammar, verbal and non-verbal communication, and dress.  This was no easy competition as the stakes were high.  Some of the prizes included scholarship money, tablets, and even a laptop.  For all the candidates English is either their third or fourth language. In some cases the fifth language they speak.  To write a 3-5 page essay on serious topics such as youth employment and healthcare is no easy feat.  The candidates all gave their very best effort which showed in the scores.  However, the judging was not easy as well.  We were objective as possible and what made it easier to be objective we did not have prior contact with the candidates. All the judges knew was their essay by number.

The English competition was held on a Friday October 10th.  The results were strategically released at graduation the following day.  Out of the 7 candidates the first 5 took home prizes.  Nevertheless, those who did not win a physical prize, still won as they gained experience in oral presentation, essay writing, and the spirit of competing.


International Students

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Internationalesawyer’s work in the community gets recognized and is asked to collaborate on different projects.  One such project that internationalesawyer was consulted to organize was Springboard for Higher Education.  This is a collaboration that started more than a year ago in 2011 with a simple statement followed by a question: “I like your dedication and leadership in community organization.” “Are you interested in a youth development project?” I swiftly said thank you and of course I am interested.

The project would later be revealed as Springboard for Higher Education.  Springboard for Higher Education is an organization that mentors, coaches, and prepares students pursuing all levels of higher education in the United States (bachelors, masters, doctorate degrees).  Springboard for Higher Education or S.H.E. is goes beyond the casual education advisory.  They thoroughly examine the client to match them with the best possible institution that not only addresses their academic needs but their long term goals, talent, geographical preference, cultural and community interests.  S.H.E. provides services that include document translation, English language preparation for ESL tests such as TOFEL and IELTS, applying for scholarships, and many more services that apply to the application process for attending university in the United States as an international student.

Internationalesawyer was asked to facilitate in the information sessions, provide English preparation, and advice on overall program implementation.  S.H.E. has partners in the United States and is organizing a team of volunteers that can serve as extra support to international students once they land on American soil. This initiative is to encourage, inform, and support international students in navigating the educational system of the United States.  One major concern of international students that I hear is they do not understand the process and become intimidated by the application demands. S.H.E is created to address these concerns by demystifying the entire process.

Please enjoy the photos of the first S.H.E. information session.

Contact information: shelearningfaso@gmail.com; +226 78 82 13 65/ +226 66 99 43 21.

English leading to bright new futures!

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Once a month I am invited to have leadership discussions with university students in English (Burkina Faso is a Francophone country).  The school’s dean invited me so that the students can have extra time practicing their English with a native speaker, and getting used to the American English accent.  Moreover, the dean sought out someone who had interest in education, leadership, and international affairs.  When I was invited to provide these services I was delighted.  April makes the 4th month in which Internationale sawyer and the International Formation of Bilingual Professionals University have had this partnership.  Furthermore, on March 16, 2013, I was invited to their graduation ceremony here in Ouagadougou.  In addition to attending I was given the honor of presenting an award to a distinguished teacher.  This was my first university graduation ceremony here on the continent of Africa. What made it more impressive were all the graduating students started with little to no English; and all of them took their well -deserved diplomas with full proficiency in English.  One aspect of the graduation that I noted was all the students that gave speeches were deeply moved. They all cited God, family, and the extreme hardships of obtaining a college diploma.  They battled illness, injustice, gender inequality from within their own family, poverty, and financial instability.  I couldn’t help but to reflect on my own college graduation, some of those same emotions were shared.  One key difference was these graduates fought for their right to education, while some in other parts of the world mistreat education and take that right for granted. I guess this is because our ancestors already did the hard part, while these present day students are still in the period of civil rights.

Eventful Hiatus


The last time I wrote on my blog it was over a month ago.   I did not forget about it, nor did I abandon the visitors to my blog.  However, while taking one of my online classes in Leadership, I read that many entrepreneurs in our current virtual world spend more than half their time online.  Thereby they neglect and forget about the importance of real life networking and relationships.  I know the online community is very helpful and easy to access; however, I did not want to be the social entrepreneur that lacks the real life connections.  These past several weeks I have used the time to participate and engage in many activities online and off.  Below is the Cliff notes version:

  • Invited to a university  graduation
  • Applied for 2 social action grants
  • Made a television appearance
  • Became a Board Member
  • Invited to a multi-million signing contract
  • Delivered English learning classes
  • Assisted in the structural formation of Springboard for Higher Education
  • WanPot LLC logo design
  • A lot of reading and posting interesting information.
  • Online volunteering and extensive online researching

English takes you anyplace in the world!

Center of Languages and Culture of Patte d’Oie (Burkina Faso) Presents

English Conversational Classes with

Certified Native American English teacher

Session I Registration: Saturday 2 February 2013

Session II Registration: Saturday 23 March 2013

Registration Time: 9h – 11h

• Bring Identification Card at registration

Location: Center of Languages and Culture Patte d’Oie

Session I class dates: 16 February, 23 February, 02 March, 09 March

Session II class dates: 30 March, 06 April 2013, 13 April, 20 April

• classes every Saturday

• Space limited to 10 students

Class time: 9h-12h (3 hours each Saturday)

Language Levels: advanced beginner, intermediate, advance

Price per session/ per person: 20.000 CFA  paid in full at registration

Discuss current events, practice professional public speaking, improve grammar and pronunciation, gain confidence, improve speaking and listening skills

Contact:  (226)

Email:  shelearningfaso@gmail.com

English takes you anyplace in the world!     FAVL and Glow 011

Ishmil on top: Update to the “It might be better to be an underdog”

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July 28, 2012 Ouagadougou, the American Language Center had its open house and closing ceremony for the summer English vacation classes.  My student Ishmil who won the English Learning Scholarship tested into level 4 which is intermediate.  He ended the summer course with full participation and passing his summer lesson.  I was present at the Open House to see the classes perform a piece they created all in English and present it to the audience that housed their parents, United States Embassy personnel, the teachers and assorted staff of the American Language Center (including the director Lynn Ouedraogo).  The ceremony started at 4 pm and ended at nearly 7 pm.  The students ranging from level 1-6 all displayed their English level through singing, speeches, and theatre.  Each class was on display showing the work of the students during the month long summer camp.  I was impressed with the accomplishments of all and more so with Ishmil who came from a village 4 hours away to participate.  While other students were driving their cars or motos to the summer camp; Ishmil came every day by his bicycle even when it rained. He is a hardworking student. I hope he continues his studies in English.