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A Picnic for the English Teachers – Deshi Style!

Posted by on December 30th, 2012

A few weeks ago, our students did something unexpectedly delightful; they took it upon themselves to plan a picnic for us!

Now, picnics in Bangladesh are quite different from picnics back home. From the activities to the food to the clothing, it was a whole new experience for me, and so much fun!

Mostly, though, I was impressed by all the thought and organization our students put into the event. They took the initiative and planned every detail, including a colorful tent, music, lovely tableware, delicious food and a cricket match. Honestly, it was more like a catered garden party than a picnic.

The best part: We really got to see our students shine and put their English and hospitality training to use. I can’t wait to see how they perform when they interact with Panigram’s guests!

What celebration would be complete without a silly group photo?

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“You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!”

Posted by on November 11th, 2012

As a teacher, when you’re with your students, experiencing their growth as it happens, sometimes it’s difficult to realize how far they’ve come. Sometimes you need a little perspective.

Well that’s exactly what happened when our new students arrived.

As I sat giving the new students their preliminary speaking evaluations, I was reminded of the original students (whom we have lovingly named our “Pioneers”). Back in June, the Pioneers were awkward and confused. They either quickly blurted out whatever English they had memorized or sat looking at me blankly, answering every question with, “Yes.”

“Ma’am. Panigram Resort is very, very wonderful. I love Panigram Resort.”

“Oh, thank you. That’s nice. Now, what do you see in the picture?”

“Yes.”

“What is the boy doing?”

“Yes.”

“How is the weather?”

Silence.

Over the past few months, I’ve been so focused on our goal ahead and all the work required to reach it that I had forgotten where we started.

Meeting the new students, I was reminded. Reminded of my first few lessons back in June, when I was still figuring out how much English skill the students really had. Reminded of the patience and repetition required to explain seemingly simple tasks. Reminded how overwhelming it all seemed.

Now, when I teach a class to the Pioneer students, they’re no longer awkward. It’s no longer laborious to give instructions. They no longer stare at me blankly and answer every question with, “Yes.” They do still tell me how much they love Panigram Resort, though. (Smile.)

So, as we begin again with the new students, who are still in their awkward phase, I am able to appreciate the progress we’ve made so far and feel even more excited about the progress I know we’ll continue to make.

We still have a long way to go, but there’s no doubt we’re getting there, one English class at a time.

Nazmeen (far left) and Angela (far right) with one of their "Pioneer" classes. (We are still working on breaking them of the Bangladeshi habit of frowning in photos!)

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British Invasion! Our Second English Trainer Arrives

Posted by on November 9th, 2012

We are really gearing up our village training programs now. About 100 new students joined our classes on November 1st, so we had to import another native speaker to help train them in English. Nazmeen Green is the latest addition to the Panigram team. She will be working with Angela to develop our English curriculum. Nazmeen and Angela are also teaming up with our hospitality experts to teach our students how to book spa treatments, make beds, and properly clean rooms. Most of our village staff will have had one year of training (6 classes a week) by the time Panigram opens its doors.

Nazmeen Green

Nazmeen Green Headshot

Nazmeen Green

Assalam alaikum! I’m Nazmeen Green and I have been working alongside Angela as an English trainer at Panigram for the last month.

I was born and raised in England, where I decided at quite a young age that I wanted to teach English in either France or Germany. However, after graduating with a degree in languages from the University of Wales, Swansea, I realized that I needed a short break from studying in which to travel.

I set off for a one-year teaching contract in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I eventually stayed for eight years. While visiting some friends in Dhaka earlier this year, I was struck with a feeling of belonging. The warmth of the local people and their acceptance of me made me feel instantly at home, especially when they heard that I was a recent convert to Islam.

I started looking for work in Bangladesh and struck gold with Panigram. I am really excited to be part of such an interesting project and to be working with some wonderful people. I have been delighted to see the eagerness of the students and the way Panigram is contributing in a positive way to the local community. I look forward to seeing both the students and the resort develop over the next year.

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It’s Time for English Class!

Posted by on July 30th, 2012

Angela teaching a class on timeAt the Union Council building, it isn’t difficult to find where the English class is. Out in the courtyard, I only had to follow where the loud, excited voices were coming from. Not to mention that the groups of children and adults peering into one of the rooms was a good giveaway that there was something interesting going on inside or perhaps that a foreigner was present—or maybe both!

Last month, Panigram Resort started its English classes to increase the language skills of those interested in becoming a Panigram employee.  All of these students are currently from the surrounding villages near the resort. They come to class eager to participate and learn. In fact, students usually rush to answer the questions if not shout them out. It’s probably every teacher’s dream to have such eager students. Read the rest of this entry »

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Panigram Resort Welcomes Angela!

Posted by on June 9th, 2012

Angela Jacobus

Angela Jacobus is an adventurous, fun-loving English teacher from the United States. She will spend a year with us developing an English training curriculum, teaching the local villagers English, and helping to equip the staff with the skills they need to provide five-star service to our guests.

Angela Jacobus

Hello! My name is Angela Jacobus. As I write this, it’s still my first week in Bangladesh. In my short time here, I’ve already been surprised and charmed and delighted more times than I can count. The people here are so welcoming and friendly!

When people ask me where I’m from, I have a hard time answering the question because I’ve lived in many places throughout my life: Texas, California, New Mexico, Alabama, Japan, Hawaii, Utah, Mexico, Oregon, South Korea. It’s impossible to narrow it down to one location, but when I’m back in the States, I call California home. In my previous life (as I like to call it), I spent many years working as an editor in the corporate world. I also spent a few years in the hospitality industry as the office manager of a boutique hotel – and as a snowboard instructor – in the Sierras. Now, I’m a CELTA-certified English teacher with a strong desire to travel and experience different cultures while also having a positive impact on the people and places I encounter. That’s what drew me to Panigram.

The upcoming year will undoubtedly be filled with numerous challenges, but I’m so excited to work with the local villagers and see their English skills develop and evolve into the conversations they’ll have with Panigram’s guests in the future.