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Future teachers set up classrooms in Mississippi

By Julie Ooms

Amanda De Ruyter will cherish the relationships and experiences she gained in Mississippi this summer.

Amanda De Ruyter will cherish the relationships and experiences she gained in Mississippi this summer.

On June 16, a caravan of vehicles set out from Dordt College to Glen Allen, Mississippi, to teach Bible school. For ten days, Professor Cella Bosma, four Dordt education students, and two graduates taught a group of young African-American students Bible lessons, held a reading camp, and even conducted a music camp. Bosma and her students have been leading similar camps for the past ten years. Headquartered at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Glen Allen, they set up partitions and held some of their classes outdoors. Both the children and Bosma’s students learned lessons that extend beyond the “classrooms.”

“We need to be aware of how we are being used by God,” said Bosma. Most future teachers will not end up teaching in all-white classrooms in Dutch Reformed neighborhoods, so it is important for them to expand their horizons and encounter children and places unfamiliar to them. Exposure to multicultural settings is invaluable, not only preparing students for teaching in those settings but also allowing them to experience different facets of God’s kingdom, says Bosma.

The students left appreciative for what they learned about themselves and what they learned about the children, says Bosma. They felt grateful for how much God had given them, and, on a more practical note, learned how much they could expect from the children they taught. The Dordt students developed the ability to be flexible, to alter a lesson plan if something unscheduled happened, and to work with children whose reactions to learning were never the same from day to day.

Bosma and her students also formed lasting bonds with the students they taught. One child remembered a student who had been to Mississippi two years earlier. The children enjoyed working with Bosma and her students immensely, but that joy went both ways. For Bosma, the children’s singing is always especially moving.

In the future, Bosma hopes to strengthen the bond of trust and love she and her students have built with children over the past ten years. She would love to expand the program and perhaps go overseas to African countries or central America.

Through their volunteer work with the students at Mount Zion, Bosma and her students gained cultural awareness and many friends. Speaking emphatically for all of them she says, “I am just God’s hands and feet. I am here to answer God’s call to further the kingdom of God.”