Paul Benzaquin Taught English to Orphaned Children in Ethiopia this July
A Grubb mini-sabbatical brought music teacher Paul Benzaquin to Ethiopia this past July to teach English to orphaned children in Addis Ababa with the Selamta Family Project.
Accompanied by his daughter Amaya, Nashoba Brooks ‘17 alumna, and his wife Rebecca, Paul taught English as a second language to teenagers and primary school students.
Selamta is an organization that takes a unique approach to the orphan crisis in Ethiopia. Orphaned children join with disenfranchised women to form "forever families" that are supported with donations from abroad. Children do not age out, and are supported well into their independent adulthood. Mr. Benzaquin taught English classes in the morning to teenage students from the Selamta families. On Fridays, a camp was offered for primary age children in the neighborhood.
Using a borrowed guitar, and many of the same songs he uses in his classroom, Mr. Benzaquin found the use of music to be a wonderful vehicle to create connection and joy in the classes. Echo songs were a great way to get students putting words together with proper vocal inflections. Movement songs helped students to fully engage with the music and language. Students benefited from hearing a native English speaker singing and speaking.
Each night, Mr. Benzaquin and his family would join Selamta families for traditional Ethiopian food, popcorn, and Ethiopian coffee. There was much laughter while playing cards, and other games.
“I am extremely grateful to Nashoba Brooks School for its support of my trip to Ethiopia, allowing me to use my musical skills to help orphaned children to learn English.” said Mr. Benzaquin. “It was one of the most enriching two weeks of my life, and the experience will have a lasting impact on me and my family.”
by Meredith Gannon, Grade 4 homeroom and humanities teacher
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