Over the past few weeks Stephanie and I have been introduced to several people who we’ll be hanging with while we’re in the Congo. Two of these people are Pete and Cindy Ekstrand (who are pictured above). I don’t know a whole lot about Pete and Cindy, but I do know that they’re full-time missionaries in the Congo, have 3 adult children who all live in the United States and that they write an amazing blog about all of the day-to-day stuff they’re doing and experiencing over in Africa. They’ve dedicated their lives to God by serving Him though serving the people of the Congo and I think that’s pretty awesome. Talk about being different and living out what Christians are called to do — wow.
Anyways, I’ve been emailing back and forth with Pete about what all Stephanie and I should be prepared to do while we’re in the Congo and how we can be the most effective with the time that we have. He’s been in the Congo for several years and has a great relationship with the church leaders over there, so he’s one of the best resources as far as where we can have the biggest impact. It’s been great to chat with him about some of the different projects that have been going on and that are being planned and he’s even looped into several email threads that were started months ago in an effort to get me up to speed on things as quickly as possible.
I’m not going to lie, it’s been a little overwhelming, but it’s also been great to have a better idea of what we can help out with so I guess it’s all good.
One of these projects we’re gong to be involved with is the Ubangi Protestant University (UPU), which is a local college that was started in July of 2008. This university was established to provide local Congolese a college-level education locally so that there was no need to travel out of the country to get a degree. The UPU graduated it’s first class just last August, which was a huge deal and was attended by 1,200 people.
I tell you all about this university because the last email Pete sent told us about how he wants both Stephanie and I to teach a fully accredited course at the college during the short time that we’re in the Congo. I’ll be teaching them about computers and Stephanie will be teaching them English and grammar. We’ll only have about 14 days or so that we can teach, so you can imagine how much we’re going to have to hustle (which Pete mentions in his email below).
Here’s part of the email that he sent — the man named Mossai he mentions is Mossai Sanguma, the president of the church and the founder of the university (he’s the real deal):
I just talked with Mossai this morning about what he would like you to do when you are in Congo. Mossai told me that he had talked to Sharon earlier this week and explained some of what I’ll say. He also talked with Sharon about the English teaching.
Mossai wants you to teach an introduction to computer class at UPU, the Ubangi Protestant University. As he explained it the class should include these elements:
- Basic intro to computers, how they work, turning on and off, etc. This is to students who probably have absolutely no knowledge of computers.
- Computer maintenance such as troubleshooting, computer viruses and the importance of an AV program
- Introduction to word processing with either Word of Open Office. One objective is to prepare the students to be able to use a computer to type their master’s theses.
- Introduction to basic concepts of Excel
Mossai is working to get a copy of the curriculum that someone from Kinshasa taught last year. When he either gets that or more information about the course I’ll pass that on to you. The teaching will be in French and the school is arranging for a translator.
We are learning that university courses here have strict requirements about the minimum number of classroom hours and total hours for the block courses. The requirements are understandable and appropriate. What it means is that to get in the hours in the time you have available you will all be pushed. A block course is to have 30 hours; 22 classroom hours and remainder for research time, exams, discussions. You can work on this schedule with the school director when you’re here.
Sounds like I have my work cut out for me, huh? Just call me professor Hupfer.
Thanks for reading and be sure to keep us both in your prayers! If you feel motivated to help us out by donating some money for the trip, you can do so through our giving page over here or by clicking the widget below.