At Oasis English Language School we are about to begin our 6th 10 week course, our 6th term of lessons. We are thrilled with all that we are seeing God do in us and through us in this adventure.
We have witnessed remarkable provision in terms of finance (as I write we are have just been promised all the money we need for Year 3), in numbers of volunteers, (8 teachers, 6 creche workers, 2 kitchen staff) and in the diversity of students we have had the privilege of getting to know.
The turn of the year. A moment to stop, to reflect, to ponder, to anticipate, to plan, to hope, and to dream.
What are our top three dreams for Oasis English Language School in 2018?
1. To invest in our volunteers more.
I had lunch with one of the teachers the other day. She volunteers for two other projects as well as OELS and I was struck when she said, “X really looks after their volunteers well”. Why? What is X doing that we are not? Was this a hint that we don’t do enough “fluffy stuff” (meals together, heartfelt encouragement via texts, conversations or emails) or was it more a cry that we don’t do enough to help our volunteers with the wider aspects of their roles?
Do you remember hearing newspaper sellers shouting their news on street corners as the latest edition of their broadsheet became available? I don’t think I do… but I’ve seen it in films so it must be true!
How do we shout out our ultimate news? There are some key questions to consider: How do we find ways to encourage our students to engage with what is really true? How do we get more of their time? We must also acknowledge that we are not a Christian Language School, several of our teachers are not Christians and a lot of our funds come from secular sources (as I shared last time). So we want to be true to our Charity deeds and we don’t want to try and make Oasis English Language School into an evangelistic tool. Those of us who are Christians have been thinking and praying about this a lot.
I’ve written about money before…but it seems entirely appropriate to do so again at the very beginning of our second year.
Have you heard about the Controlling Migration Fund? It’s a national fund, administered by local Councils, supporting organisations working with migrants and refugees. In Suffolk it had £51,000 to spend on English provision for this academic year. My heart raced at the prospect of getting some of this money for Oasis English Language School.
As a charity we have a relatively small budget, somewhere in the region of £20,000 per year which we receive from Churches, individuals, minimal student fees and small grants. We use the money to employ a part time Director, purchase books and resources for each student, provide lunch for all on Thursdays, and cover volunteers’ expenses. (As I’ve mentioned before, we have a lot of volunteers.) This year we are offering 4 lessons on a Wednesday (up to 35 students) and 6 on a Thursday (up to 60 students) with crèche for up to 6 or 9 children each session available during 3 out of 4 of our lesson sessions.
Did you watch the 4 fantastic Relay Races in the recent Athletics World Championships?
They were GREAT. Gabby, Colin, Paula and Michael were clearly excited as they talked us through the build-up to the races. Training, preparation, practice, teamwork; these were just some of the words that were mentioned… a lot!
The last six weeks have witnessed all these words in action here in Ipswich as the team at Oasis English Language School have been getting ready for the start of our second academic year.