Rosaleen Smyth: Rosaleen Smyth’s farewell commUNITY newsletter

Hi professor.

It’s my hope that you are busy furthering our future through our examination scripts. God bless you always.

We appreciate your contribution to our academic prosperity, though we have nothing we can pay as compensation to you for enlightening us academically.

The phrase ‘thank you’ is very small morphologically, but very tough semantically if used from some one’s inner most heart.

I’m saying this by considering the complexity of some courses and the way you have been making them simple and real. You are more than a teacher. We have been facing difficulties in some of the courses and even our performance used to be not good. In other universities in our country, they would tell you that linguistics is one of the threatening subjects-but the case is contrary for RUCO students.

Thank you once again.
Pius, Damus Mpuga

Rosaleen, front left, with graduating students (back row) and colleagues (front row)
I have just left Ruco (Ruaha University College) Iringa in Tanzania after a splendid three year linguistic adventure. I never anticipated at the start of this mission that I would in the next three years be developing courses in English Structure, the History and Development of the English Language,  English Phonetics and Phonology, Semantics, English Oratory, Varieties of English,  English Morphology and  English Pragmatics. But that I did do, with a lot of help from the Internet and Amazon.com. I prepared complete sets of lecture notes for all those courses which were available to students after each lectures and marked hundreds of exams and assignments.

It was a great challenge for the students who had only been exposed to English from the secondary school to be faced with this linguistic smorgasbord developed by scholars with a cultural background which could be broadly defined as middle class, Anglo-American.  In our lectures we did not in linguistic parlance, share the same ‘universe of discourse’; so many examples used meant nothing to the students so we would have to work together to  find a common ground so that the concepts could be meaningful. And, it was actually, great fun.

Informal Choir practice at RUCO, Tanzania
In my last semester I acquired a mini-lap top (not too heavy for me to carry) and a portable data projector, which, at last, made PowerPoint lectures possible.  One day I arrived minus the equipment and Patrick, the third year class leader said,” Madam, where are your utensils?”  I laughed uproariously,   but when cross examined I found that scarcely a single student  in the class of over 100 knew what ‘utensils’ meant. I then went into an elaborate explanation cum pantomime (a frequent occurrence when we stumbled across vocabulary or cross-cultural  roadblocks) about utensils as kitchen tools. “Well, Madam”, said Patrick, “I am not going to stop speaking because I might use  wrong words which  make you  laugh at me.”  That is the spirit of the RUCO students they battle on despite all the problems  they  face in a developing country…when  student loans are late in coming, when the power cuts are frequent,  when they haven’t got text books and can’t afford computers, when they are debilitated by malaria…they battle on.  Their determination to succeed against the odds is inspirational.  I salute them.

Rosaleen

Hi professor. It’s my hope that you are busy futuring our future through our examination scripts-God bless you always. …we appreciate your contribution to our academic prosperity; we have nothing we can pay as compensation to you for enlightening us academically.
The phrase ‘thank you’ is very small morphologically, but very tough semantically if used from some one’s inner most heart.

I’m saying this by considering the complexity of some courses and the way you have been making them simple- real, you are more than a teacher. We have been facing difficulties in some of the courses and even our performance used to be not good. If you trace in other universities in our country, they would tell you that linguistics is one of the threatening subjects-but the case is contrary to RUCO students.

Thank you once again.

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Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do. - Johann Wolfgang Van Goethe