Mrs. Mary Ann Madama is a retired school teacher and a Resident of our home. She studied at Fordham University in 1945. She graduated from Mount Mercy College, Pittsburgh in 1955 with a B.S. degree in education. She also took post-graduate studies at Duquesne University.
When Mary Ann observed some of our employees from other lands struggle with learning English, she offered to have free English classes twice a week for them on their own time. The offer was graciously received by administration and human resources. Having taught ESL (English as a second language) for over ten years in the past, she skillfully and happily received her first six students in March of this year. They come from Turkey, Colombia, Serbia, and Peru.
Her classroom is well-equipped with visual aids to assist her pupils. These include charts with time, temperature, climate, phonetics, numerical information, money and geometric shapes. Also, domestic pictures are there to help with food, clothing, furniture and cleaning. To stimulate conversation, each student receives a magazine cut-out at the beginning of the class. The students then make up a story to share with the others. Very creative and humorous tales are spun! For those who aspire to become an American citizen, she prepares them for this special event.
So, what do the students have to say about their classes after five months?
Abilia Castro, “I am so thankful to Mrs. Madama and the other students. Why would I want to learn English? It is the language of the country where I live. It is necessary for me to communicate with others. I am very happy inside because I am learning more.”
Martha Torres, “I am able to study English in this home because it is free. This is important because it helps me to communicate with the Residents and all other people. Thank you God! Thank my teacher.”
Amalia Ortiz Bolivar, “I am happy to be studying English. It gives me peace when I can understand what others say, and they can understand me. I appreciate that the home gives us this opportunity.”
Liliana Lopez, “My english class is good for me! I enjoy it very much. It allows me to communicate with those in my life. Classes are fun and helpful.”
Branka Bursac, “Someone asked me why I stay after work to learn English. The person said you can learn in other ways. Yet, I am very grateful to be in these classes. I read more, I understand more and I am growing in self-confidence.”
Dragana Petrovic, “While I have an ability to speak and to understand English to some degree, I have much more to learn. It is pleasant to learn with people you know. I thank Mrs. Madama and the Little Sisters.”
The Little Sisters, the Residents and staff have commented on the progress they perceive in out six students. We assure them of our prayers and our encouragement as they continue growing in knowledge and confidence.
Mary Ann Madama has this to say, “God has blessed me in many ways. That’s why I am teaching English today. I can work to give back to him by serving him in the manner that I know best. St. Jeanne Jugan did just that. And so did St. John Bosco. Both of them were exemplars of service to others; St. Jeanne to the elderly, and St. John to the young. Both were serving the Poor.”
Mrs. Madama is looking forward to other groups of students soon. In some of our other homes that are located by a college or a university, students from these campuses do their practice teaching hours with us. These intergenerational experiences are always fruitful.