Tag Archives: prize

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.


It might be better to be an underdog


This post is to give the results of the English language scholarship that was discussed in the previous post “English learning scholarship”.  Ishmill Rachid is a student that most teachers and other school officials overlooked as an underachieving student.  However, he is the 2011-2012 winner of the English learning scholarship at the American language center in Ouagadougou.  He is a student that repeated his current class because he failed English last school year.  He also participated in over 40 hours of community service doing various activities such as trash pick up, mentoring younger students, and participating in after school activities in which I organized.  He was one of the students that came to me for tutoring in English 3-4 times a week for several months.  He also volunteered at the local health center in the village of Tchériba.  While he may seem studious he is also a comedian. He is a typical teenage boy that likes to have fun with his friends telling jokes, and playing soccer. One thing that meant a lot to him was learning English and passing to the next class. While he told his aspirations to his teachers and friends, most of them laughed saying a student that repeats a grade can never come in first.  However, Ishmil proved them wrong and almost immediately overnight became studious and kept his eye on his prize.  All his work paid off and I am so very proud to grant him the scholarship and to learn that he has passed to the next grade level.

This afternoon Ishmil and I went to the American Language Center to fill out his enrollment paperwork.  On Tuesday the 26 June he will take a placement test to see his level of english. On July 2 he will be starting his classes.

Congratulations and bon chance to all those who tried.  We all won in the end because the unwanted pregnancies which was part of the criteria decreased by 75% in one academic year.

Thank you all

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