Into Her Own

When I think of one of my past ESL students, Jenni, I am reminded of a tightly closed rose that continues to blossom into a colorful and fragrant flower.

Jenni came to Pittsburgh as part of SEAPC’s arrangement with the Chinese government, an agreement to help provide training for Chinese teachers working with students living with autism. As part of the training, the teachers received tutoring in English.

When Jenni first arrived here, it was hard to get her to say much more than a couple of sentences. Adjectives such as “meek,” “shy,” “introverted,” and “unsure” could have been used to describe her. It didn’t help that her English proficiency level wasn’t so high.

However, there was much more to Jenni’s character. As she began her English studies, I saw a determined and tenacious young woman slowly starting to emerge. She applied herself to her English studies. As Jenni’s English skills increased so did her confidence. She soaked up the lessons, and even tried her hand at cracking a joke or two! Her attempt at humor was sometimes “interesting” because of language differences, but it did give us all a chuckle.

I was inspired as I watched Jenni change from a wallflower sitting quietly in the back of the classroom, to someone opening up to offer help to a fellow classmate. The Bible and Christianity were totally foreign to her, but many seeds of truth were planted within her during her time in the US. It was a blessing to see her blossom and grow.

The bulk of Jenni’s training while in the United States was in the area of Applied Behavior Analysis. She received practical training from experts in the field of teaching children with behavioral and learning disabilities. She was given the opportunity to see cutting edge teaching techniques modeled, and then put those techniques into practice in situations where her own teaching was assessed.

As Jenni returned to China it became obvious that her training had taken root. In her home country of China, Jenni is at the cutting edge of the teaching world. Her classroom is one of the first to offer new teaching techniques to children living with autism. She has a better understanding of her students, and is able to teach them skills that will enable them to reach beyond their diagnosis and lead more rewarding lives. Just like a rose in full bloom, Jenni really is having a beautiful impact on her home country of China!

As for me, I am honored to have had a part in supplying Jenni with some of the tools she is now using to infuse godly hope for the future into children living with autism.

About the Author
Jeannie Fleming image

Jeannie Fleming

Jeannie Fleming started working with SEAPC in 2014. She works with media relations for the communications department. Jeannie serves SEAPC on a daily basis through interfacing with the media to get coverage of SEAPC related events and projects. She also helps the SEAPC representatives to gain media coverage in each of their geographical areas. Additionally, she works with SEAPC international interns to help them improve their English language proficiency levels.