Dr. Aliel Cunningham, an associate professor in the MA TESOL program at LCC, has just returned from an overseas opportunity to serve as the curriculum consultant for iSC's (International Schools Consortium) ESL program. This organization has 7 different international schools - 6 are in various locations in China and 1 has just opened in the UAE. During her visit, Dr. Cunningham toured 3 of the schools' campuses, interviewed teachers, observed classrooms, collaborated with the director, and presented at iSC’s annual education conference in a workshop focused on adapting textbook materials for ESL student populations. This trip was designed to facilitate both the needs-analysis phase and the logistical set-up for a curriculum design project aimed at integrating all 7 schools in their teaching training and curricular approach to teaching ESL students of various proficiency levels within iSC.
Dr. Cunningham was really impressed with the intentionality and thoughtfulness of the staff leadership in both their hospitality toward newcomers and their purposeful integration of community faith practices on a daily basis. “My home base school was in Tianjin, the birthplace of Eric Liddell, who has always been a hero of mine. It was a thrill to be able work alongside others who shared a common vision of faith-based education as outreach to enrich the larger community.” Dr. Cunningham went on to say that she was humbled by the opportunity to share her own story of faith during a morning address to the staff and that many of the staff commented afterward on how God had used that presentation to encourage them in their own journey.
“Right now, China and all those who are working there are really heavy on my heart due to the concern over the coronavirus outbreak. The staff, parents and students, and especially the leaders really need our prayers at this time.” Dr. Cunningham is planning on returning to China to continue facilitating the curriculum project, but is uncertain of when that might be now that the global concern over the coronavirus has changed so many plans. At the moment, ongoing discussions about the project will be continued via distance communication platforms. Dr. Cunningham commented that one of her take-aways from the time she spent there was to remember to stay awake to grace. "The grace of breathing clean air, the grace of a homemade meal shared with others, the grace of serving those we did not expect to meet. We often think we are in a place to accomplish a certain task, but many times God has us there for very different reasons, and we need to stay alert to what He is doing and the opportunities He brings across our path every day.”