Volunteers, Maurice and Natalie arrived at the Marist Mission in Ranong 18 months ago, they’ve made a made a huge contribution to the students and the Education Programme.
Maurice and Natalie’s story
We are a married couple from Wellington, New Zealand and we have been the onsite tutors for the online university programme.
Initially we agreed to work in Ranong for six months, but after spending just a few weeks with our students we both knew that this was a group worth sticking around for.
And so 18 months later we are still here.
We remember when we first met our online class; nine very nervous looking faces looked at us expectantly.
- Toby and George from Karen state who had walked for days from their refugee camps to join this program
- Jack sat next to them and even though he barely spoke a word, we could tell there was more to him than met the eye.
- 17 year old Leah was bright eyed and alert, with a maturity beyond her years.
- Samson kept nodding and smiling at us reassuringly.
We asked them to write a paragraph about themselves and it took an hour. We encouraged them to ask questions but there was only silence.
We could tell though, that there was something very special about this group and all they needed was a bit of support.
Fast forward 18 months the students are now in their final course of their diploma and they have
- now introduced themselves many different times to many different lecturers
- asked countless questions and
- written thousands of words in forum entries, essays and presentations, and
- last week they even debated each other on topics as complex as ‘effectiveness is more important than efficiency’ and ‘managers should only hire applicants with an internal locus of control’.
As we watched them stand up there at the podium, and speak with such passion and confidence, hardly looking at their notes, we were amazed at how far they had come.
Learning is a two way street
We’ve also learnt lots and there are many things that we wouldn’t have been able to do without them, like helping us take our cat to the vet, paint our apartment, and learn Thai and Burmese.
However we think the most important thing they have taught us is that when you are away from home, a warm smile, some kind words, and the ability to laugh at yourself, are priceless.
We remember once saying to a fellow teacher that we wanted to go on Mission to make a difference. She very wisely told us that when you go on Mission, it’s the people there that make the most profound difference to you.
When we think of our group of online students, she couldn’t have been more right.