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JOCV 50th year anniversary

March 9, 2022

50th Anniversary of JOCV Program in Malawi - A Piece of Memory "Gospel Sung for Me Before My Return to Japan by Students with Whom I Had Trouble"

Name: Shota Motoi
Batch: FY2007-4 (24 March 2008 - 23 March 2010)
Technical Field: Science and Mathematics Teacher
Host Organization: St. John Bosco Secondary School
Hometown in Japan: Oshima District, Kagoshima

A Piece of Memory: "Gospel Sung for Me Before My Return to Japan by Students with Whom I Had Trouble"

"If you are dissatisfied, get out!" This is what I, who was inexperienced and did not know anything about the students at that time, said to the students, about five months after I was dispatched.

I lived in an area called Katete in northern Malawi. I was in charge of teaching two mathematics classes (10 classes per week) to students of Form 3 (2nd-year high school students) at a college-preparatory school in that region. However, since the speed of progress of class work was lagging behind the students' career aspirations, I had personal meetings with the students and decided to conduct 10 supplementary classes every week.

I was assigned to teach mathematics to Form 4 students the following year. Until then, supplementary classes were held in the early morning and evening, but the students seemed to be very tired. When I asked them if they still wanted to take the supplementary class, they began to complain and took out their frustrations against me, partly because I had crammed the lessons. In the first class of the new semester, the students boycotted that class. I remember deeply regretting that I had neglected communication with my students and colleagues.

What surprised me was the subsequent prompt response of my fellow teachers. They held a personal meeting with the students that day and listened to what they had to say, while thinking of me. After that, many students conveyed their honest feelings to me, and I felt that I was able to build a trusting relationship with them for the first time. Since then, the way I communicated with my students and colleagues changed significantly.

From there, the story moves forward until three weeks before the end of my term. The students took a national examination that would determine whether they could achieve their future course, and the results had come out. The results were that 18 out of 107 students were able to achieve Distinction (70 points or more), the best score since the foundation of the school. I remember that my fellow teachers, including the school principal, were all happy, and that I was also impressed. However, at the same time, I remember being depressed since some students were unable to achieve the results they desired. I knew the weak points and strong points of the students' academic abilities, so I reflected on the lack of communication tailored to match their individual personalities.

During these two years, there are many things I learned from the students. It's not about what to convey but about how you can help them in a way that fits their situation. The importance of teaching students with a strong sense of teamwork with colleagues...what I learned here has been very useful in my current teaching career.

PhotoStudents holding a meeting on the gospel

Finally, there is an incident that occurred at the last school assembly during my term. When I was participating in the assembly while remembering the various incidents that happened, students suddenly started to behave differently than usual. The students had prepared a gospel for me, and using various musical instruments, they presented me with the best gift. During the gospel performance, I could not stop crying since my memories with the students overflowed. I was unable to take a picture of them singing the gospel, but I did take a picture while they were making preparations, so I have posted it here.

The two years I experienced were very meaningful. I sincerely hope that many people will also get to experience this.

Next will be Kanako Morita (maiden name Tanaka) from batch FY2007-1 assigned for HIV/AIDS Control, who was a mood maker and a big sister to everyone in the Malawi team.


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