Stephen (Steve) Pope

Year Joined MKLM: 2015
Country: Tanzania
City: Mwanza
Focus: Education and Sustainable Development
Project(s): Education for Better Living (EBLI)
People Served: Young mothers, teenage to 20 years old

Project Goal(s): Help young mothers improve their socio-economic well-being by providing them access to a high school education, business entrepreneurial training and computer classes.

Current Ministry:

Since June 2017, Steve has been teaching English at Education for Better Living Organization (EBLI) in Mwanza’s Buzuruga neighborhood. He works with teenage mothers and students who have dropped out of high school for various reasons. Upon entering secondary school, most Tanzanians struggle with English, because KiSwahili is spoken in elementary school. Thus in Form 1 (9th Grade), students take classes like Biology, Chemistry and Physics in English, while they are still learning verb tenses and pronouns. Widespread deficiency in English leads to dismal results.

Steve’s been tasked with teaching his students grammar to enable them to have a fair shot in their classes. Meanwhile, he wants his students to enjoy the English language and to be able to use it in conversation. Thus while prioritizing the meat and potatoes of proper English, he’s ensuring that his students learn their best American slang.

Furthermore, Steve shares that he most enjoys the cultural exchanges between him and the students. Students are fascinated by American culture and have many questions to ask. These back-and-forths also allow Steve to gain more insight into Tanzanian culture. His students’ questions and the way they phrase them often reveal something about their worldview.

Outside of teaching his students English, Steve also assists in other projects in the General Education Development (GED) type program. In the late afternoons, Steve has begun tutoring two of his colleagues in English. They have some grasp of the language but want to sharpen it to help their teaching and give them more career possibilities. His colleagues recognize that they need to become more confident in their English. Overcoming fear of making a mistake and being ridiculed is one of the greatest roadblocks to learning the language. This is particularly true in Tanzania where people are very respectful of authority and thus deferential at times.

Personal Data:

Steve is from Boston, MA. He has a Bachelor of Arts in History with a Minor in Theology from Boston College. Steve taught, coached, and did some administrative work at a high school in Boston after graduating from BC. As an undergrad, Steve studied abroad in South Africa where he studied African history. Also as a student, Steve volunteered as an English as a Second Language teacher to Central American immigrants. Before that, he enjoyed tutoring a boy through a program similar to Big Brother, Big Sister. He also enjoyed a short stay at a Catholic Worker farm in West Virginia.

In Tanzania, Steve has also taught History, English and Bible Knowledge, coached sports and worked with the Debate Club at Father Ramon Boys Secondary School in Nyegezi, Mwanza.