Bahá'í Language Educators
Special Interest Group of the
Association for Bahá'í Studies, North America
Vol. 2, No. 1: December 2002
News and Articles from the 2002 ABS Conference
I. News and Articles from the 2002 ABS Conference
Bahá'í Language Educators SIG Program
26th Annual Conference of the Association for Bahá'í Studies North America
Friday, 30 August 2002
On Friday, August 30, over 50 language educators, students, and interested people attended the second meeting of the Bahá'í Language Educators Special Interest Group (SIG) of the Association for Bahá'í Studies, North America, at the Association's annual conference held in Toronto. A full day's program was provided, followed by the annual meeting and a networking session. In the evening many of the attendees gathered for a fellowship dinner and made plans for the next SIG meeting at the 2003 ABS conference in San Francisco.
Chris Gilbert, Tacoma Community College, began the BLE SIG program with his workshop "Educational Learning Styles through 'The Four Valleys,'" discussing Kolb's four learning styles and their relevance to the human and spiritual characteristics outlined in "The Four Valleys." The second presentation, "Collaborative Research Across Cultures" by Dara Shaw, West Virginia University, and Sandy Fotos, Senshu University, described research conducted with international colleagues and the benefits derived from cross-cultural consultation. This was followed by a presentation on Moral Education by Maxwell International Bahá'í School's principal, Garrett Brisdon. In the afternoon Judith Johnson of Yamaguchi University, presented a design for moral-based modular curriculum in her talk, "Making Spiritual Education the Foundation of Curricula, Not Just an 'Add On.'" Next Susan Brill de Ramirez, Bradley University, described her freshman literature course aimed at developing the students' commitment to ecological responsibility and service in her talk, "Service-Learning, Experiential Learning, and Collaborative Learning: New Models for the Bahá'í Informed Composition and Literature Classroom."
The final presentation was a very successful Roundtable on Bahá'í inspired teaching activities. Seven teachers shared lesson plans integrating Bahá'í principles with ESL/EFL classroom activities. These will be available for downloading from the SIG website: http://ble-sig.org. The Roundtable presenters and their topics were: Dara Shaw & Joy Allchin: "Playwriting from Pre-writing to Performance;" Lena Statsenko: "'Wings of One Bird' Song Activity on Equality of Men and Women;" Kathryn Barlow: "Study of 'Those Winter Sundays,' a poem by Robert Hyden;" Sandy Miller: "A Web Activity to Demonstrate Unity;" Judith Johnson: "Using CALL (computer assisted language learning) to Understand the Concepts of Equity, Social Responsibility and Cooperation;" and Sandy Fotos: "The Two Donkeys: A Peace Education Activity."
During the annual meeting Coordinator Sandy Fotos showed the new BLE-SIG website and received suggestions for its future development. Several members recommended expanding the SIG's vision statement to include literature and translation activities. The SIG Coordinating Committee (Dara Shaw, Joy Allchin and Sandy Fotos) welcomed its new committee member, Kathryn Barlow, Camosun College, BC, Canada.
Note: $75.00 in contributions was collected from afternoon participants to cover the annual special interest group fee to ABS
Workshop: "Educational Learning Styles through 'The Four Valleys.'"
Presenter: Mr. Christopher K. Gilbert, Tacoma Community College
Abstract: This workshop focuses on four distinct learning styles and their relevance to the human and spiritual characteristics outlined in "The Four Valleys." The session is interactive, affording participants an opportunity to complete their own brief Learning Style Inventory (Kolb's Model of Learning), discussion on different teaching methods designed for these learning styles, and an overview of the styles in the pretext of Bahá'u'lláh's letter, "The Four Valleys."
Christopher Gilbert's PowerPoint document is available on the internet at
http://ble-sig.org/ (click on ?Materials?)
"Collaborative Research Across Cultures."
Presenters: Dr. Dara Shaw, West Virginia University, & Dr. Sandra Fotos, Senshu University
Abstract: The presenters will describe research they have carried out collaboratively with international colleagues, both within and outside of their countries of residence. They will also focus on providing guidance for overcoming logistical obstacles in order to follow through on common research goals. Part of the session will be for participants to plan future collaborative research projects.
Dara Shaw's and Sandy Fotos' papers are printed below
Presenter: Mr. Garrett Brisdon, Principal, Maxwell International Bahá'í School
Abstract: Using examples from the curriculum and activities of Maxwell International Bahá'í School, this presentation establishes the need for moral education as a core curriculum component, then demonstrates practical integration of Bahá'í principles within a rigorous academic curriculum.
Garrett Brisdon's presentation is available on the internet at http://ble-sig.org/ (click on ?Materials?)
"Making Spiritual Education the Foundation of Curricula, Not Just an 'Add On.'"
Presenters: Dr. Judith Johnson & Professor Michael Higgins
, Yamaguchi University
Abstract: First a brief description of the International Educational Initiatives K-12 Spiritually-Based Global Curriculum Guides' goals and structures will be given. Next a sample module will be used to demonstrate how universal human virtues and spiritual teachings, higher-order thinking skills, social skills and historical/cultural understanding are used to integrate subject matter and create comprehensive and meaningful educational curricula.
Judith Johnson's paper is printed below
"Service-Learning, Experiential Learning, and Collaborative Learning: New Models for the Bahá'í Informed Composition and Literature Classroom."
Presenter: Dr. Susan Brill de Ramirez, Bradley University
Abstract: This presentation describes a two-semester freshman literature course on "Ecocomposition and Environmental Literatures." Building on 'Abdu'l-Baha's concept of living the life of service and the Bahá'í directive that His model should be emulated in one's everyday work, the course introduced a service component. The combination of individual and group service activities, individual and group reading and writing assignments, and class-wide experiential learning created cohesive learning communities and produced significant improvement in writing skills and critical thinking. The transformative aspect inherent in strong service-learning programs, combined with increased and deepened student learning indicates the strength of a service-based pedagogy.
Susan Brill de Ramirez's paper is printed below
(or 4:30, depending on activities) Roundtable: "Bahá'í Inspired Teaching Activities."
Facilitators: Dr. Dara Shaw & Ms. Sandra Miller
, West Virginia University
Abstract: Roundtable participants will share successful ESL/EFL lessons that have been inspired by the Bahá'í writings. The lessons will target different language skills, as well as cover a variety of proficiency levels, and age levels in EFL and ESL settings. Participants will receive complete lesson plans, and share in a brainstorming session.
4:00-5:00 Annual Meeting and Discussion, followed by a fellowship dinner.
Materials presented at the 2002 ABS conference (available at http://ble-sig.org/):
A Web Activity to Demonstrate Unity
(presented by Sandy Miller)
Educational Learning Styles through The Four Valleys PowerPoint document
(presented by Christopher Gilbert)
Playwriting from Pre-writing to Performance
(presented by Dara Shaw and Joy Allchin)
Study of "Those Winter Sundays," a poem by Robert Hayden
(presented by Kathryn Barlow)
The Two Donkeys: A Peace Education Activity
(presented by Sandy Fotos)
Using CALL (computer assisted language learning) to Understand the Concepts of Equity, Social Responsibility and Cooperation
(presented by Judith Johnson)
Moral Education: view on the web or download as a PowerPoint document (40MB)
(presented by Garrett Brisdon)
II. Papers from the 2002 ABS Conference
Collaborative Research Across Cultures
Dr. Dara Shaw and Dr. Sandra Fotos
In Peter Khan's paper on Bahá'í scholarship published in the Journal of Bahá'í Studies in 1999 he quotes Shoghi Effendi's emphasis on the need to correlate Bahá'í teachings to contemporary thought (p. 56):
We need Bahá'í scholars, not only people far, far more deeply aware of what our teachings really are, but also well read and well educated people, capable of correlating our teachings to current thoughts of the leaders of society.
In the same article Dr. Khan suggests that academic studies can give new insights into the Bahá'í teachings (p. 57), and he especially mentions investigating consultation as a form of group decision making.
So in our session today, Dara and I will apply this advice on a very personal levelengaging with research partners from other cultures to investigate professional concerns. Often these research partners are not Bahá'í, and often we are interested in applying Bahá'í concepts to traditional research paradigms. So developing professional relationships with colleagues from different countries helps us to both investigate application of the principles of the Faith to contemporary thoughtwhich is one of the visions of the Association for Bahá'í Studies-- and also to familiarize academics from various cultures with some of the principles of the Faith in a very natural way
First, however, we have to consider why forming a research partnership is better than simply doing research on our own. This takes us back to the suggestion of Dr. Khan to consider consultation.
Nearly all recent scientific discoveries have been the result of group researchnot only because of the expensive hardware involved, but also because of the advantages when a number of minds address the same problem. The ability for the consultation process to actually create new knowledge is emphasized many times in the Bahá'í Writings.
For example, Bahá'u'lláh has said:
Consultation bestoweth greater awareness and transmuteth conjecture into certitude... The maturity of the gift of understanding is made manifest through consultation.
Consultation: A complication , p 1.
And ?Abdu'l Baha writes:
The purpose of consultation is to show that the views of several individuals are assuredly preferable to one man, even as the power of a number of men is of course greater than the power of one man?.Should the people of a village consult one another about their affairs, the right solution will certainly be revealed. In a like manner, the members of each profession? should consult... In short, consultation is desirable and acceptable in all things and on all issues. (p. 9)
These quotations indicate that understanding and awareness are promoted through group cognition. The decisions that evolve during sincere consultation are often far superior to any of the initial contributions and seem to be the direct result of the creation of knowledge through discourse.
To correlate this Bahá'í view of consultation with contemporary thought is very easy since there is an extensive psychological and market research literature on group dynamics and decision making. This literature has identified the processes taking place during group discussion. So let's consider at the psychological steps that happen during consultation (adapted from Johnson & Johnson, 1997):
So in this way, new knowledge is created through interaction. Joint research can therefore be expected to significantly exceed what one person can accomplish on her own.
The special challenge comes when we are doing research with colleagues from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds, with their own set of expectations and ideas on what is appropriate, and their own cultural protocols for expressing concerns, showing agreement or disagreement, making suggestions, and other areas of consultation.
Now Dara will share insights from her extensive experience in cross-cultural research.
Consultation: A compilation.
(compiled by the Research Department of the Universal House of Justice) (2nd edition) (1995). Wilmette, IL: Bahá'í Publishing Trust.
Johnson, D. & F. Johnson (6th edition). (1997). Joining together: Group theory and group skills.
Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Khan, P. (1999). Some aspects of Bahá'í scholarship. Journal of Bahá'í Studies 9(4): 43-64.
As Bahá'ís in the field of language education we have unique opportunities to participate in cross-cultural and international research. These opportunities can be mined for service to our beloved Cause in a myriad of ways. Many of us participate in transcultural communities together as Bahá'ís, and in our professions. In fact, through the interactions of Bahá'í Language Educators group we are developing such a community now. We know our work can be elevated to the station of worship, if we work in a spirit of service. Abdu'l Baha in the Secret of Divine Civilization calls us to contribute:
Today the mass of the people are uninformed even as to ordinary affairs, how much less do they grasp the core of the important problems and complex needs of the time. . It is therefore urgent that beneficial articles and books be written, clearly and definitely establishing what the present-day requirements of the people are and what will conduce to the happiness and advancement of society. These should be published and spread throughout the nation, so that at least the leaders among the people should become, to some degree, awakened and arise to exert themselves along those lines which will lead to their abiding honour.
Over the last few years I have been privileged to be involved in international education projects that have enabled me to travel and visit Bahá'ís in Cuba, Mozambíque, and Mexico. My collaborative research team's work in Mexico and southern West Virginia was the catalyst for this presentation.
Our study grew out of work on a grant through Kellogg Community Partnership Project , entitled the West Virginia/Guanajuato, Mexico Language and Cultural Education Capacity Building Partnership. My collaborators are faculty from the West Virginia University Extension Service, two elementary schools in southern West Virginia, two schools in Guanajuato, Mexico, the Universidad de Guanajuato, in Mexico. I work in the WVU Department of Foreign Languages. Our group also included two international graduate students, one from Colombia, South America and another from Mainland China. The WVU Extension Service gave us an additional research seed grant, so that we could include a research component in our broadly based endeavors.
Our qualitative study focused on parent and family involvement in two Mexican and two West Virginian four elementary schools. We collected survey questionnaires, and interviews, from parents, teachers and administrators at the four sites. We asked: What are the practices used to promote parental involvement in children's education? We found that the four schools used many of the same communication mechanisms to communicate with their parent populations, such as parent-teacher conferences, signed student notebooks, parent-teacher meetings, and telephoning. All four of the schools had a read aloud program, where parents came to school to read to the students. The West Virginia schools had parent volunteers who built playgrounds, cleaned the physical plant, worked in the library, and produced the school year book. The Mexican parents did not volunteer for these activities.
We asked, ?What perceptions do school personnel and parents have of parental involvement in their children's education?? We found that administrators in all the schools thought about and wanted increased parental involvement in their schools; believed that problems with parents could be worked out. Teachers in each school indicated that they didn't want too much parental involvement, and were able to list many qualities of involved parents, but seemed to have negative perceptions of uninvolved parents. Teachers in all the schools believed that if the parents were involved, the students would experience increased academic success and improved behavior. Parents in the four schools had minimal involvement in curriculum decision-making, though their suggestions were actively courted and implemented for fundraising and extracurricular activities. The number of parents who were involved on frequent, non- event basis at the four schools varied from five to eight parents.
We asked what barriers needed to be overcome to achieve greater parental involvement in children's education? We found that common barriers to parental involvement in all four schools the schools were time and work responsibilities. The answers to the last question we asked, was found in the experience of the study, rather than in the data. How may educators in two cultures form cross-cultural partnerships to study common problems?
Only a few obvious cultural differences surfaced in the study. The festivals, holidays, school calendars and events were very different when compared by country. The Mexican schools put a greater emphasis on dance, art, foreign language and music, and parents were expected to contribute time, materials, and funding for the numerous school activities. One of the chief differences when the Mexican and West Virginia Schools were compared was that there seemed to be strong expectation in Mexico that the school had the right and responsibility to dictate parental behavior at home.
The process of the cross-cultural collaboration required to carry out this research had many benefits and challenges. We learned that it was essential to build strong ties with colleagues from the institutions in the host countries. There should be some benefit for the schools that participate, for example one of the Mexican teachers from the school with the lower socio-economic level said,
We would like to be up to date on the programs that they have in the United States?We are interested in an exchange on pedagogical practices, how it is here, how it is there. We want children in the United States to know we are their neighbors, and that we have a good relationship, because the more equal we are, the more the progress. Teacher - Pueblo School [translation]
We had originally planned to work with another school besides Pueblo school. Students and faculty from West Virginia on two previous trips to Guanajuato, Mexico had contributed books, computer equipment, and English classes at the school. Though a verbal agreement to participate in the study had been granted by the principal of the school. However, when she was asked to sign a document of participation (A West Virginia University research requirement, she refused to sign.) Some administrators of public schools are suspicious of outside researchers and do not want to sign formal looking documents, even when the groundwork has been done. Here is a list of other things to keep in mind while doing collaborative cross-cultural research:
Any project taken, with an attitude of ?work as worship? requires that the researcher draw on spiritual qualities and tools. Vakil (2001) provided a useful list for development work in her article ?Natural Stirrings at the Grassroots?. Bahá'ís should certainly keep her list in mind, engaging in collaborative cross-cultural research. Here are some points from her list that seem to directly apply:
Cross-cultural collaborative research can greatly benefit, the Bahá'ís and the outer community. It can provide opportunities for international travel teaching, the teaching of people of capacity], and the opportunity for building productive transcultural communities of learning.
'Abdu'l Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization (Wilmette: Bahá'í Publishing Trust, 1975)
Vakil, Anna C. (2001) Natural Stirrings at the Grassroots: Development, Doctrine, and the Dignity Principle. The Journal of Bahá'í Studies, Vol. 11, Number 1/2
Making Spiritual Education the Foundation of Curricula, not an ?Add On?
Dr. Judith Johnson and Dr. Michael Higgins
Yamaguchi University, Japan
The educational process itself
must change if schools are to become effective change agents in preparing people to become competent citizens in an increasingly complex global community. The recognition and development of the basic spiritual and intellectual capacities that are the foundations of human potential loving and knowing and wholesome personal and planetary development are the inclusive goals of 21st Century education.
Four basic premises underlie spiritually-based education. The first, the essence of the human being is spiritual. Spiritual is defined as part of "that energetic, unifying and generative power in the universe." (Barnes, 1998) The second, each individual is comparable to a "mine of gems of inestimable value", possessing unlimited potential. As the essence of the human being is spiritual, this potential is of a spiritual nature and is transformed into feelings, beliefs, behavior, and the like through the process of education the cutting and polishing which enhance the beauty and value of the gems. Viewing spiritual education in its most general sense, one can envision its effect on humankind as energizing, unifying and generative. The third, all human beings are spiritually connected. And the fourth, every human being is endowed with the capacity to understand.
?God's greatest gift to man is that of intellect, or understanding.? (Paris Talks, 41)
?... intellect or understanding is obviously not just the power of abstract conceptualization, which is the highest, the last and the most comprehensive of the mental faculties to appear. The gift of understanding is more like the individual's total possible conscious intelligence, and includes every one of the person's mental and sensory capacities for learning.? (Barnes, 1995) Educating the intellect cannot be limited to finite, academic content. Education should help individuals develop the ability to search for knowledge, evaluate it, and decide how to put it to use in meaningful ways. This process applies to all people regardless of age, sex, race, occupation, economic status or place of residence.
Fundamental to a spiritually-based education is the belief in the dignity and worth of each student and the recognition of the importance of every student's responsibility to the world community. All youth should have an equal opportunity for an education that develops their individual capabilities to their fullest possible expression. Students must take an active role in this process and should develop in themselves the desire for personal excellence which is fundamental to building both good character and a society of quality. Not only the individual teacher but all of the school staff, as well, should be models and guides for the students along this path of excellence. Spiritual principles should be integrated, naturally, in every subject matter and school activity so that students understand that these principles are fundamental to every aspect of human existence.
Change is a constant factor in life, and in order for students to develop the personal values and thinking processes which will enable them to not only intelligently adapt to a rapidly changing world, but to also become the exponents and leaders of positive change, their education must foster and encourage these capacities through teaching universal human virtues, global awareness, and independent thinking skills.
Learning is an unbroken activity which continues throughout an individual's life time. Therefore, education should nurture innate spiritual capacities that enhance one's growth and service to society. It should instill in the individual a desire to engage in a life-long process of exploration and experimentation, of openness and wonder.
Curriculum of a School with a Heart
International Educational Initiatives
Curriculum meaningful -
helps students make sense of their lives
Real problems and solutions; real audiences
Higher order thinking skills independent investigation, service
Has unity and diversity
The unity of animation and the diversity of its citizens
The unity and diversity of humanity
Interests are connected to deeper concerns, the past, and the world
Content is connected across subjects, the present, past, future, focus on the individual
Accepting the obligations of being human; being responsible for who we are and what we do
Students practice and evaluate responsible behavior during the daily routine of school; consultation skills
Adapted from Glatthorn, A. and Jailall, J. (2000) Curriculum for the New Millennium 2000 ASCD
yearbook. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development
Judith A. Johnson
Service-Learning, Experiential Learning, and Collaborative Learning:
New Models for the Bahá'í Informed Composition and Literature Classroom
Susan Brill de Ramirez
This past school year saw the development of a two semester freshman seminar course offering: ?Ecocomposition and Environmental Literatures.? The design of this course interweaves several areas of pedagogical innovation to produce a learning community that brings together classroom instruction (lecture, seminar discussion, and writing workshop), experiential learning (regional studies off campus with area naturalists, farmers, ecologists, and writers), and service learning (environmentally oriented community service activities both on and off campus). This course deliberately builds on ?Abdu'l-Bahá's example of living a life of service and the Bahá'í directive that His model should be emulated even (perhaps especially) in one's everyday work. For me as an English professor, this means modeling these teachings in my own life and work as an active advocate of service-learning. For my students, this means requiring them to incorporate service activities as an integral part of their studies with me. I have found that the experiential and service learning components of this course deepen student learning and commitment to the course, the assigned readings, and their written compositions.
While a freshman seminar cannot offer extensive one-on-one mentoring with a faculty member, this course does offers freshman students hands-on learning opportunities, whether that be installing prairie grass plugs on an eroding hillside to stop erosion, removing invasive species to give room for native species to rebound, collecting recyclables on campus, or assisting with Earth Day and regional water conservation events. My students went out regularly on the weekends (and some occasional weekdays) to assist the Peoria Wilds environmental stewards and the Peoria Park District naturalists at the Forest Park Nature Center restoring Illinois River valley habitat. The naturalists and Peoria Wilds stewards worked with the students as they participated in brush cutting, exotic and other invasive species control, controlled burns, hillside erosion controls with the planting of plugs of native grasses, etc. During the students' restoration work, the naturalists and stewards spent time talking with the students about their work and the lands they are restoring, so that the students would understand not only what they were doing, but also why their work is important, and what the short-term and long-term results will be. The restoration work periods also included occasional wildlife, wildflower, and other nature walks for additional educational benefit.
On one specific restoration workday, I brought a group of ten students out to the bluffs overlooking the Illinois River. As the students helped to clear out brush, a young male bald eagle flew overhead. The students and I all silently looked up and watched the eagle as he watched us and then flew off. This experience was very moving for all of us, many of whom had never seen a bald eagle out in the wild before. I turned to the students and said, ?That eagle means that your work here is blessed.? This one moment helped confirm those students in their commitments to the restoration of Illinois habitat and, more broadly, to global environmental concerns as they could see the results of past environmental efforts that have led to the recovery of the bald eagle in central Illinois. The naturalist out with us explained that it has only been the past decade that the bald eagle population and the eagles' central Illinois habitat have recovered sufficiently such that eagles can now be regularly seen in this area.
On campus, the students were actively involved in developing our university's fledgling recycling program and in helping the environmental student group in putting on a successful Earth Day celebration. The combination of individual and group service activities, individual and group reading and writing assignments, and class wide experiential learning opportunities turned two sections of freshman composition and literature into notably cohesive learning communities. The benefits to the students included substantial development in improved skills in their writing (papers assigned throughout the year), critical thinking (demonstrated in class discussion and in written work), and life (evident in student maturation and their developing career and academic major/minor decisions). Overall, the results that I witnessed during this year in student growth and learning have been impressive. The transformative aspect inherent in strong service-learning programs, combined with increased and deepened student learning continually reaffirms my commitment to this pedagogy
My Journey of Land and Spirit
Sometimes we meet people who see the Bahá'í Faith as a nice selection of beautiful principles, and for this reason most of them actually oversee its mystical nature. Though this aspect of our Beloved Faith is not so much emphasized among Bahá'ís, we still do sometimes experience how obvious is the invisible Hand of the Almighty in grabbing us so powerfully, yet tenderly and leading us in the right direction. Some of those experiences are inevitably transferred into our professional life, which in this case is ESL/EFL teaching.
I was once requested to write a story for BCCA ESL newsletter how I, a Bahá'í' from Russia, ended up in the US. Really, there is nothing so much extraordinary about this story, except that it is closely related to my visit to the Holy Land and my work as a teacher of English at the same time. Personal as most of these experiences are and for this reason not always adequately recountable or understood, I still thought this might be a good idea to share it with my Bahá'í friends and colleagues, subscribers to BCCA ESL Forum, that I may this way thank you all, since it is through this Forum that the Divine Providence made my dream come true.
Now, going back to almost two years ago, some of the BCCA ESL subscribers might remember an exchange of ideas and suggestions on BCCA forum concerning schools mostly in the states and Britain that offered MA programs towards TESOL. This question was actually brought up by me, then a beginning teacher of English from Russia. This forum was only one of the many other resources I was trying to tap to find what I was looking for. The mysterious part began with my trip to Haifa to that very historical Terraces Opening Ceremony on Mt. Carmel in May 2001. This was my first visit to the Holy Land, and that, of course, was and still is the most outstanding event in my whole life, however short it might seem to have been so far. I remember one of my closest Bahá'í friends, then serving in the Bahá'í World Center, said jokingly, ?Be careful, when praying in the Shrines. Whatever you ask from God will come true. No doubt about it.? I think I could almost physically feel how amazing it was to read prayers in the Holy Shrines. And of course I couldn't help mentioning in my prayers that petty wish of mine about going abroad and studying for my profession. I remember how material these requests looked to me at that moment when I was submerged in so deep an ocean of spiritual world that one can experience in the Holy Land.
And it did indeed come true, so unexpectedly and mysteriously, which I realize only now when everything is in the past. I am not sure if I started looking for the school I needed before going to Haifa or shortly after my return, but there is one thing that imprinted so strongly in my memory. Something triggered my search at that point right after my trip to Haifa. I started a very active and fruitful correspondence with one of the subscribers to the BCCA ESL who was offering me an opportunity to do a Master's Degree in TESOL in one of the US universities. Then I did not see all the hurdles to overcome on my way, instead I felt so extremely confident. I knew it was my petty wish in the Holy Shrines. And it is amazing how quick and precise God could be about giving feedback to our prayers. It was exactly what I was looking for: something related to English teaching, somewhere in an English speaking country, for some two years, that I didn't have to pay for it, and that I could closely bind this professional experience with my Bahá'í' life. At some points, when my plan seemed to have crashed, I would just tell me myself that it is His will, whatever happens. But now that everything is over, and I ended up studying TESOL in one of the universities in the states with almost no money in my pocket, warmly welcomed by the local Bahá'í' community, I thank God for His mercy and ask to forgive me for my not being steadfast enough in trusting Him at times. And when you find yourself on the other side of the planet, just like that, one snap and here you are, you realize that it's not for nothing that God dropped you here. There should be some sense to it. And this is what makes me wonder too.
Irshat Madyarov, a Bahá'í from Russia, is a graduate student in the MA TESOL program at West Virginia University.
2003 ABS Conference:
The 2003 annual conference of ABS NA will be held in San Francisco at a conference center near the airport over Labor Day weekend, August 29-September 1, with the SIG meetings on Friday, August 29th. Please plan to attend and present your activity/paper on Bahá'í inspired language/literature teaching!!!
The 27th Annual Conference of
The Association for Bahá'í Studies-North America
?Religion and Community in a Time of Crisis?
29 August?1 September 2003
Marriott San Francisco Airport
Please consider contributing a paper or a roundtable for our next Bahá'í Language Educators Special Interest Group meeting at this conference. Send your proposal ideas to Dara Shaw, Dara.Shaw@mail.wvu.edu. We have no specific format at this time.
TESOL 2003 in Baltimore (March)
Every year for the past 6 years, Bahá'ís attending the annual TESOL conference have gathered to network and consult. The Bahá'í-ESL listserv and the Bahá'í Language Educators' Special Interest Group were born from these gatherings. If you are planning to attend TESOL 2003, please notify Joy Allchin, , so that we can coordinate our meeting time.
Listserv for Bahá'í ESL/EFL Professionals
Members of Bahá'í Language Educators might be interested to know about Bahai-ESL@bcca.org, a free non-moderated internet listserv for members of the Bahá'í Faith who have an interest in the teaching of ENGLISH as a SECOND or FOREIGN LANGUAGE (ESL/EFL). There are 150-200 subscribers worldwide, and the volume of messages to the list varies but is usually no more than one per day.
The list helps Bahá'í ESL/EFL professionals exchange information about:
* Methods and ideas for teaching ESL/EFL from a Bahá'í perspective
* Employment and career needs and information
* Development of Bahá'í-inspired curricula
* Upcoming conferences and other events of ESL/EFL interest
To subscribe to the list, send a message to Bahai-ESL-Request@BCCA.Org including your name, country of residence, email address, and Bahá'í identification number. Questions about the list may be directed to >.
Joining the Bahá'í Language Educators' Special Interest Group
Membership in the Bahá'í Language Educators' SIG is open to all members of the Association for Bahá'í Studies, North America (Please check the ABS NA website for information on how join: www.bahai-studies.ca) If you will be joining the Language Educators SIG, please send the information below to Joy Allchin at >. You will be added to our membership list. Bahá'í Language Educators will meet again at the 2002 ABS conference, and modest dues will be assessed at that time to cover the annual ABS fee of $75.00.
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