Hello, I’m your new English teacher!
THE STUDENTS of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bandar Samariang were gushing with excitement and curiosity when they first laid eyes on the stranger with a sweet, winning smile and long dreadlocks.
With her charming yet fun personality and one-of-a-kind hairstyle (in this part of the world, anyway), it was not hard for Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) Alexandra Mills Victoria to instantly gain the students’ attention and affection.
On her first day of duty, Alexandra was greeted by excited students eager to know more about her and they even asked whether they could touch her hair as it was a rare sight for anybody to have that kind of hairstyle in Kuching.
Due to her friendly and playful manner, it was not difficult for the students to warm up to her. When asked, Alexandra gushed how excited and curious her students were about her background and American culture and also how very active and responsive her students have been on her first day.
With the guidance of her mentor, Jeevalita Samikanu, Alexandra is set to have 20 hours of classes per week with 17 hours inside the classroom conducting lessons and extra curricular activities and the remaining three hours will be spent doing activities outside the school such as volunteer work at the Sarawak Children’s Cancer Society (SCCS). As of now, she has 9 classes from Forms 1 to 3 under her belt which she will be teaching 2 classes per day.
On February 5th, US Ambassador Joseph Yun and his wife Dr. Melanie Billings-Yun made an official to SMK Bandar Samariang, Jalan Sultan Tengah, Petra Jaya along with officials from the Kuching State Education and the US Embassy Kuala Lumpur to observe ETA Alexandra with the students.
During the official visit, the students were seen doing group work activities pertaining to smoking issues among teenagers prepared by Alexandra.
According to students of class 3F, Caroline Lansam, Steela Lina Keneeth, Ernawati Idris and Zabbel Gawing Maggat, Alexandra has been great fun in class as she is very friendly and approachable.
Aside from conducting English lessons in the classroom, Alexandra will also be involved with English-related activities such as drama, English language club, public speaking, coral speaking and even sports.
According to Alexandra, the students have been pretty good as they are able to understand English and converse and interact in a simple conversations as well as can read basic passages. She also said that through the ETA programme, the students will learn and understand American culture while she also learns about the local culture.
With an obvious passion for public service and human interest and a BA in Gender and Women’s Studies, the fresh graduate from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) expressed her hopes in starting a Women Empowerment Club for the female students in the school focusing on sisterhood where girls could meet up and talk about current issues among teenagers such as self confidence and supporting each other.
Alexandra was also hoping to teach the students the history of different women from different parts of the world as well as the things the students could do to be socially active and aware.
She was also planning on doing some fun activities like cooking with her students. In addition to that, she also said that these activities might help her students to practice their English language as the activities would be conducted in English.
“Of course, guys can join if they want to because all people need to know how to empower and appreciate women,” she said.
After completing the ETA programme, Alexandra planned to do some travelling after and hopefully continue teaching back in the US.