Monday, December 8, 2014

Creative Sparks reunite!

This was the image presented to my Creative Sparks.
Scroll down to see what they wrote. Enjoy :)

Pic taken from

Trust no one
by Mohamed Algantri (Abogila)

Trust is difficult and also not impossible.
How some people look like angels, but they are evil.
...which means...
"Don't judge people from their appearance."

People are different.
White and black.
Fire and water.
Light and darkness.
Love and hate.
Live and die.

Actually, it's life.
It's like a game.
You should...
Think before your speak.
Listen before you read.
Respond before you show.
This is life, I said.

As far as I'm concerned, people are like time. Moody, fast, organized and perfect.

Time is the killer. If we don't manage our time, time will kill us
Moreover, people don't think of each other very easily, because they are cautious. Perhaps you trust and be hurt and painful.

So always use our mind before our heart - even when it's difficult, we should be like the storm - destroying everything. Yes, be strong but don't forget to forget and to love. We use fire to get adn we use water to have. So we should know how to deal.

Don't trust easily, because you will be upset and moved.

Simply, it's life.


by Marwan Alkilani

This picture means that not everybody has a good appearance and carries a soul inside him or her.

On the other hand, maybe it carries another meaning. To see gentle, soft and beautiful lady does not mean that she is weak, but she may hide a powerful personality like a dragon.

At the end, my opinion: The beauty of a lady is in her shyness, weakness and quietness.


by Hesham Baraka

I would like to speak about girls, because some boys think girls are very weak. I think girls are more sensitive than boys. However, they can do things that can't . First of all, look at your mother. I think she is also a woman and she did a lot of things for you and they ability to break a man's heart.

So I wanna say: behind every great man is a great woman.


by Otman Eltalis

In this picture, there is a beautiful girl with a marvelous body, but I don't understand why she took a picture next to a dragon. I hoped her picture would be with an angel. That is better than now, but I am fortunate because I wrote about her. I can't describe her, really. If I have power, I will put her into a glass box. Then I will put it in the museum until all people see her.

I understand one thing from her. She is dangerous and crafty with men.
She also has two hands.
One for good people.
The other for bad people.


by Sheetal Makhan

We all have it in us.
A monster of some sort.
In the depth of our soul.

It lurks in our hearts, only to be revealed in the moment when the sun shines.

They say your reputation will follow you like a bad smell. Your shadow can never run away from you. It will mimic your every move.

...but the secret is:
It only comes out when there is no one else around and there's a bright light shining on you. The demon comes out when no one else is around. Just you. Against a white wall.

No one else around.
Who are you? Really?

The truth is...
no one knows you.
Except you!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

5 Must-Read Life Lessons from Gandhi

Mohandas Gandhi was the pre-eminent ideological and political leader of India during the Indian independence movement. He pioneered Satyagraha; which is defined as resistance to tyranny through mass civil disobedience.  This is a philosophy based on complete non-violence.

This idea assisted India in gaining its independence, and provided motivation for civil rights and freedom all across the world.

After assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns to ease poverty, expand women’s rights, build religious and ethnic amity, end “untouchability,” and increase economic self-reliance.

Gandhi lived very modestly in a self-sufficient residential community.  He wore the traditional Indian dhoti and shawl that he hand-spun. He ate vegetarian food, experimented with a fruitarian diet, and fasted as a means of self-purification and protest.

…Without further adieu, I present to you the 5 must-read life lessons from Gandhi:

5 Must-Read Life Lessons from Gandhi:

1. Be the Change

“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Be the example, be the leader.  If you lead properly people will follow, and together you will change the world.  Anyone can complain, anyone can blame, and most do, but if you desire to change, then “you” be the change.

2. Ask the Right Questions

“The power to question is the basis of all human progress.”

The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the quality of the questions that you dare to ask.  Are you asking the right questions?  Are you asking the right people?  You can’t get answers, without questions; you can’t make progress, without an inquiring mind.

3.  Always Act

“Have a bias towards action – let’s see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away.”

If you’re going to be biased, be biased towards making something happen today.  Tomorrow never comes, any progress to be made, must be made today.  It must be made right now!

If you don’t act now, you don’t have a future, just a longer today.  Gandhi said, “The future depends on what we do in the present.”

4. Forgive

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

It’s not “weaklings” who are quick-to-forgive; it’s those who are strongest.  The ability to forgive quickly is a sign of strength.  How strong are you?

If you’ve been weak in the past, you can begin today to be strong.

5. Monitor Your Beliefs

“Your beliefs become your thoughts.  Your thoughts become your words.  Your words become your actions.  Your actions become your habits.  Your habits become your values.  Your values become your destiny.”

In short, your beliefs will create your destiny.  What do you believe?  What do you believe about yourself, your future, and your potential?  What you believe, you will surely become.


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Sun (To Sheetal from Mohamed)

Can you imagine my surprise when I saw and read the following today? It blew my mind. Well, not so much...because this young gentleman is someone I have been mentoring for almost a year. And simply,.I know how he weaves magic with his words. All I can say is...THANK YOU ♡

The Sun
by Mohamed Algantri

Our day starts with the sunrise. The sun shines, gives peace and happiness to the world.

It gives smile to the face and it gives love to the heart. We can’t wake up and feel relieved without the sun although it hides sometimes at night. However, it will shine and rise again.

Actually the sun changed her name to Sheetal Makhan.

She is the sun, humble, hard-working-optimistic, powerful and ambitious.

She is our teacher, she teaches you how to love, help, respect and how to use them.
She is an angel on the earth. I have been studying for ten months, I have not seen her angry, bored and depressed. Her mirror are students. When she helps, she feels amazed.

When she supports, she feels terrific and when she sees your smile, she feels ecstatic.

I go to school every day, every lesson and I find her busy with some students or things even when she is on lunch break.  As I knew her from the first day. Simply she is the key for any locks to any problems or advices, because she knows how to deal with everyone and everything.

She has her own flag, do not give up, as she became our flag. Beautiful like the sun and attractive like the moon. Confident when she teaches, generous when she gives and hopeful when she smiling. She is like the fire strong and brave, water fresh and lively.

We have learnt a lot from her and she has chosen her decision in life. We would like to wish her all the best and luck in life, an enormous love and respect from us.

Yours faithfully,
Mohamed Algantri (Student)

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Salt of the Earth...Abdulgader

I remember his first day almost as if it were yesterday. He was quiet and looked rather preoccupied. What struck me most was the level of respect he showed.

I'm not quite sure of when we started growing close, but does it really matter? I think not. As I always say, the only thing we are sure of is the moment right now.

It has been an emotional week, but as I sit here and reflect on my day, my thoughts go to someone who received his certificate today.

Abdulgader Alsharif (Abdul) is undoubtedly one of the FINEST students I have had the pleasure of knowing.

There is an expression which fits him perfectly. He is "the salt of the earth". In other words he is someone who is simple and good. Mash'allah!

One of the reasons why Abdul is very special to me is because in recent months, he has worked very closely with me. In particular, with his writing. His ability to weave stories and characters together really impresses me. I hope he knows how absolutely proud I am of his improvement.

When I know people for as long as I do (in terms of students, especially) it's easy to see their different colours/moods. But it must be said that no matter what, Abdul has always displayed the highest level of respect. As one of his peers said, "You don't find people like Abdul anymore."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

So finally - I would like to wish this special person all the very best as he embarks on his future. Thank you for the privilege of knowing a lovely person like you.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Some children, by Otman

by Otman

That is a story in our life I think. There are some children climbing on the wall. they have the same meaningful the best thing in the picture, so I see cooperate community between the for achieve their aims, because any realization in our life to need like this. This is my opinion.

Indians in South Africa, by Helson

by Helson Santos

The first Indians in South Africa came here with a contract [contract workers] for 3 years with very low salary. They came to work because the natives [in KZN] didn't do the same type of work. 

South Africa has the largest Indian population, and they don't speak their own language.

About fashion, they use sari and kurta pajamas. The origin of pajamas comes from India. Their clothes are very colourful, elegant and regal. About Indian jewelry, it's rich in gold and they use a lot of bangles.

Bindis (or the dot they use between the eyes)

They use because they believe this is the point or the place that has a high point of energy.

They believe it is the third eye

Some use it only as a fashion accessory

And others believe that is is protection against evil.

The red bindi means that the lady is married (single and ready to mingle)

About food, they eat with their hands, they believe that when you eat you need to experience your food, and the act of eating is an act of God. So they only eat with their right hand.

They don't eat cows, because cows give us milk and it's a sign of respect, because with this milk, they feed children. They don't eat pork because it's a dirty animal. 

About celebration

They have the festival of victory of good against evil.

The biggest industry of movies is in Bollywood. 

The "bible" is the Mahabarta.

And finally, the way they greet, I forget the meaning, but because it's so special, I prefer to say in the end.

Namaste - means, how are you? Full of love, If you are with God... 


My mum, by Feras

by Feras Aldaouki

I know that my mum, I always make you feel like crying, worried or angry, but all you want is for me to be a good person.

I know that I will never collect how many days you had to be with me or you had stayed to take care of me. I cannot measure how much you love me, but I can definitely remember a few beautiful words you told me.

She had never cared about her body or her health when she took care of me. So, sorry mum, I have just known that when we started missing somebody is when we became too far from them.

I'm always thinking about how or when I'm going to pay you back and return all that kindness. I also don't mind if nobody wants to trust me. But I don't want you to stop supporting and trusting me. Because you are the most important person in my life.

I will do the best to prove that your son's heart was made especially for you and no one else.

I'm going to tell you now, by Kamal

by Kamal

I haven't told anyone this before, but I'm going to tell you now...

My queen, I don't know from where I'll start
about what I felt
when I saw you for the first time.

I know now it is too late to say that,
but I should say that

you are the flower of my life.
You are the water in the desert.

I was wrong,
because I hesitated
about telling you my feelings,
and I took a long time to say that.

I know there is no benefit of this. 

I love you.

Secret Love, by Kamal

Two old friends get together for dinner after a long time apart.
One of them is secretly in love with the other one. 

by Kamal

"Hello, my friend."
"Hello, Kamal."
Hug, kiss and start talking.

She was talking with me and I was in another world.

I remembered the first day I met her.
I remembered my first heartbeat.
I remembered her scent.

Her face is the same with a little wrinkles to remind me about ten years ago.

After that she started to talk about her husband and children. She was happy with her family.
I was also happy for her.

That made me hesitate to tell her about my feeling.
I also tried to tell her about what I did in 10 years,
but I found that I just spent 10 years studying, working and researching. 

No love. 
No family.

I haven't told anyone, by Hesh

by Hesham

I haven't told anyone this before, but I'm going to tell you now...

In the past, when I was studying in high school, I was a lonely boy. I was studying and working at the same time.One day I met a boy from another city. He was friendly and very funny. Step by step, he became my best friend. That boy was living in a difficult situation in his home because his mother passed away since he was born. His father remarried, but that woman hated boys. He made me sad when he said that, but he was always joking with everyone.

This made me think: Some people smile and joke all the time, but they have problems as big as Table Mountain on their back. 

My Talent, by Ji-hyun

by Ji-hyun

This topic is one of the difficult things for me, because I have never thought that I have special talents. Of course, I like many kinds of things, such as poems or playing sports etc..

For that reason, I will write about my talent which my friends think I have.

Firstly, I am a good consumer. The meaning is that I have sense when I buy something. It was good quality and low cost of whatever I bought. Whenever they saw my new goods or clothes, they were surprised about that and always said to me, "It's are good at shopping!"

Secondly, I'm a good counselor. It is my ability to give others comfort. When they talked about their problems to me, they felt better and told  me, "You're a good listener." I have learned that a good counselor is a good listener.. 

A good listener understands them well. The answer is inside themselves and they know well. They just want to express their feelings.

Finally, I strongly believe that everyone has a special talent, even if they don't know it. Someone told me, "Nobody sees that, but if you can see that, it is a special talent for you." I think this way...and maybe, I have a lot of talents!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

BC0914: When I grow up

When I grow up, I want to be able to have the answers I've been searching for up to now. For example:

Why are we here?
Is true love as mystical as a unicorn?

When I grow up, I want to love myself...all of me, including (or especially) all my flaws! I want to be able to stand up high and with confidence and face the world saying, "this is me...take it or leave it, but this is me."

Each and every morning when I wake up, I am one step closer to the end. And as much as I can...I want to make these days my BEST days yet!

BC0914: My first time driving alone

I remember it so well! It was the shortest distance (possibly just a kilometre) but my first solo drive was to my Godmother, Aunty Bonz!

At the time, I don't think she knew that I had bought my first car so I wanted to surprise her by pitching up at her door with my new red baby ;) My red Hyundai i10.

Buying my first car and driving alone was liberating!

BC0914: My dream house

Like all little girls, I also have an idea of what my "dream house" would look like in the future.

I apologize in advance for the cliche, but I actually do see the overdone 'white picket fence' with a beautiful manicured lawn and potplants lining my window sills!

Inside, my kitchen would be large with an island in the center. This would be where everyone congregates. It would always be filled with the aroma of something delicious being baked in the oven.

A mandatory room would be my very own library, complete with a cottage style window and a book nook/reading area. This would be my reading sanctuary!

BC0914: My Job

Part of my life's mission, I believe, is to serve. I feel like I was led into my current profession because it allows me to do just that. Serve.

Teaching is most definitely a vocation for me. It fuels me with such love and respect from my students. On a daily basis, this is transfered to feelings of great satisfaction and worthiness.

Many people think that what I do is not a "real job". I beg to disagree. Having a "job" does not merely mean that I go to work and earn a salary. My work gives me the opportunity to help shape others futures. It is my platform to inspire and motivate. This is what I live and strive for!

BC0914: Describe the worst night

It's a time that I actually wish could be erased from my memory. On the other hand, it serves the purpose of being a reminder. A reminder to be absolutely thankful for what I have.

The night before I traveled to East London after hearing that my mum was in ICU will go down as the worst night of my life. I lay in bed in agony...without a minute of sleep. I had to be up at the crack of dawn to catch the 06:00am flight. Thinking back, I can't remember if I cried, but I do remember feeling numb. Physically and emotionally.

BC0914: Best memory with my brother

Firstly, may I say that I am so grateful for my brother. If and when I meet an only child, I think of what my life would be like if I had no sibling.

I have several good memories with my brother, but I suppose the one that sticks in my mind is from four years ago. I was living in South Korea at the time and my brother came over to visit me.

The two of us traveled to Jeju Island (the Hawaii of Korea) & there, we explored together. Two spots that still bring a smile to my face is the day we visited "Dinosaur Park" and the "Teddy Bear Museum"!

I sincerely hope that we have more trips we can take together.

BC0914: Someone new I met today

I'm writing this blog post its actual date. Since I can't remember someone exactly new, I will write about Basma, who I met briefly for coffee after work.

I remember her arrival in Cape Town last year very clearly. A few months after arrival, Basma (who was pregnant at the time) joined my High Intermediate class.

During and after being in my class, I got to know this lovely lady from Libya. I always admired her classic beauty. With flawless skin, I felt she exuded such grace and warmth whenever we were together.

She and her family have just relocated and while I didn't meet her all that often, I already feel her absence.

BC0914: Best trip & why?

I am most fortunate to be able to say that I have traveled fairly extensively. However, my most recent international trip...and one that remains etched in my mind happened just a few months ago.

India was everything and nothing like I had imagined. Words that come to mind to describe it range from colorful to mystical to charming. Not everything was always positive, but what made my trip for me, I believe, was my travel mum!

To this day, we often reminisce about it and long to be back...sipping chai at foi's (aunty) apartment in Dardar, Mumbai.

We both can't wait to go back...even uf just to the hustle and bustle that is Mumbai. Ever so grateful to my dad for making one of my dreams become a reality.

Monday, September 8, 2014

BC0914: Favourite screen character

I first caught glimpse of her when I was in Sub B (second grade). With such poise, I remember her eloquence. "My Fair Lady" was and has remained one of my all time classics, because of the charming AUDREY HEPBURN.

It's difficult to choose just one screen icon, and because I believe that both ladies are legendary, I will add her to this blog post. Whether she played "Mary Poppins" or "Maria", no one displays more grace than the stunning JULIE ANDREWS!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

BC0914: Describe the View

I have to say that the view from my apartment is nothing short of spectacular.

Each and every morning I'm greeted by the natural majestic beauty of Lion's Head. As it lazily peels the blanket of clouds around it, I marvel at its enormity and my proximity to it.

When I moved to Cape Town in 2011, I imagined walking to the top of Lion's Head. The walk uphill would be strenuous as I'd be carrying all my negative thoughts, stress, doubts and fears with me in my pockets.

Once at the top, I'd offload all these elements and feel a lot lighter...obviously making my descent much easier.

I needed something visual to rid myself of negativity. I chose to "leave" it all at the top of Lion's Head where vultures would be free to feast on that which I no longer had use for.

I consider myself totally blessed to wake up to such incredibly beautiful views.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

BC0914: What I'm reading

"Good Morning, Mr Mandela"
by Zelda Le Grange

This is a memoir written by the PA to the late former president of South Africa. It is a fascinating account of her career working in the presidential office, where she started off as a typist.

Getting to know Mandela through Zelda's eyes is a completely different experience as her background is white Afrikaner. Seeing her and her family's prejudice dissolve as she gets closer to the president is quite something.

There have been uncountable stories of personal accounts with "Madiba" as he was also known. However, I don't think any of them really catches the nuances that his PA picked up.

It is a fairly easy read and clearly written with depth and emotion. You'll find yourself grinning as you turn the page - trying to imagine what it would be like to accompany the President to a dinner and to sit next to a Queen!

Thanks to my dad for giving this book yo me.

Friday, September 5, 2014

BC0914: If I won the lottery

I always said that if I were to win the lottery, the first thing I'd do is buy my mum a new car. WIN the lottery, surely I should PLAY it?!

Never mind. Let's just imagine that I did win ;)

I would first give a substantial amount of money to my parents. Next, I will buy either an apartment or house with an ocean view.

Next, I will donate money to a charity for children. This must be used for two things. Food and books. Food to nourish their bodies. Books to nourish their mind and soul.

After that, my money will be spent on a great love of mine: Travel. Absolutely nothing feeds MY mind more than travel. I want to travel in style and stay at only the best hotels!

My imagination is beginning to run away with me so perhaps it's best I just stop here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

BC0914: What irritates me the most?

Learner autonomy is something we continuously strive towards. I tell students that teacher's merely teach them how to use the "cutlery" (skills) but you need to go out there and actually practise it!

On a regular basis, students sit in my office complaining. Their writing isn't improving. They can't speak to others fluently in English.

"I can't..."
"I cant..."
"I can't..."
"It's impossible," they tell me.

That's when I put a spin on things and tell them "Oh yes you can!"

...and my favourite:
"Impossible" = I am possible

Your writing isn't up to scratch?
Solution...[Take my advice] and READ! Do extra writing for me! Let me help you.

Your speaking isn't fluent enough?
Solution...[Take my advice] and please, speak only English at school and don't rely on a translator to be your brain.

What irritates me is when a student does not take responsibility for his/her own learning. It's always someone else's fault. Never their own. Owning up to ones own fault is a sign of maturity and when I see a lack of this, I become frustrated.

I see such great potential before me, yet he/she wants to sit back and be spoon fed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

BC0914: What made you smile today?

I consider myself truly blessed, because my job provides endless smiles. Today was no exception, but I will talk about just 2 incidents which happened today.

The first was when some students received good news that they will enter the much sought after Cambridge course! The pride on their face with a twinkle in their eye melted my heart. I'm proud of them...even those who didn't make it. There's always a next time.

Then I spent some time in the student lounge talking and laughing with "my guys". We were talking about someone who likes to talk a lot and one guy asked me, "Teacher, what's the adjective of that....talkery?" I loved it...and I replied, "talkative" ;)

These little moments bring such joy to my day!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

BC0914: Teaching Tip

Pronunciation / Intonation

Pronunciation & intonation are very important elements when learning English. Placing stress on the correct syllable or word in a sentence can drastically change its meaning.

On the right hand side of my whiteboard I have a section for Pronunciation. Here, I write the word, the phonetic spelling as well as the word itself broken up into easy-to-read-and-pronounce chunks.

Eg: "valuable" = "val-yoo-bill"

(Many students are unfamiliar with the IPA, but that's another post altogether. )

I use a different coloured marker and draw a circle over the syllable or word that needs to be emphasized.

I encourage students to do the same when they're reading, especially out loud.

Monday, September 1, 2014

BC0914: Memory Lane

A walk down memory lane...fills me with nostalgia. Tonight I'm walking all the way back to 2007 when I had just arrived in South Korea.

I remember my first night alone in my apartment. The only furniture I had was my bed. I had no phone. No computer. No radio. No TV. The only thing to keep me company was the book I traveled with.

I remember the silence being deafening.

I didn't want to unpack my bag, thinking that I'll go directly to the airport the following day. The 20+hour flight was a waste of time. I wanted to be back in South Africa.

I was completely alone in a foreign land. What was I thinking? How could I live there for a year? A whole year?!

Anyway...I remember that moment as a smile forms on lips.

I've grown in leaps and bounds from that time. Korea was one of the biggest challenges I've faced. I had to cross many barriers, mainly language and culture.

The best thing it did was push me to my limits. We only know what we're capable of when we're thrown into the deep end!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

5 Minute Magic

I used to write using a timer in 20 minute sessions. When I wrote with students, I reduced it to 15 minutes...and then 10 minutes.

Recently, we've been writing in 5 minute sessions! That's 300 seconds.

Words that have been produced by students working with me have been nothing short of phenomenal!

I've called our Writing Group "Creative Sparks" because the words that come out of our sessions are like electricity.

...but why 5 minutes?

- People are lazy to read long texts.
- They have short concentration spans.
- Writing in a shorter time frame forces the writer to choose/use only the best words.

Quality over quantity.

As I said recently:
Use fewer words, and make those words powerful.

I'd like to add that Creative Sparks has helped me with MY writing. Thank dearest "Sparks" :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Write what's in your heart

Today in Creative Sparks...
We wrote what was in our heart

(Written in 5mins)

Many people cross our path in life. They inspire, entertain, help, motivate...even hurt.

These people are our teachers, or as I like to call them, "angels of evolution."

I could write pages of the names of people who have come into my life. I will remember some of them fondly or with heartache. 

Some of them have lifted me to heights I cannot explain. Others have crushed my heart to pieces. Leaving me as if I walk barefoot on tiny pieces of glass.

Nevertheless, if it weren't for these "angels of evolution", I know - as I know my name- that I would not be who I am today if it were not for them. 

So, for the laughter, love and pain...

...all I say is, "Thank you"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"You taught me more than English"

From Google Images
From Google Images

Hailed by Time Magazine (Europe) as one of the "10 Best Movies of the Year 2005" from around the globe, Black is an Indian drama film about a blind and deaf girl, Michelle McNally. A prisoner of darkness, which is the only world she knows, Michelle grows up to be a violent and uncontrollable eight-year-old child. As the saying goes, "There is always light at the end of the tunnel" and for Michelle, it was in the form of an eccentric teacher, Debraj Sahai who sees himself more as a magician. Michelle's parents don't approve of Debraj's unconventional teaching methods, yet...he persists.

Slowly, he teaches her words and their meaning through sign language.

When everyone was about to give up on Michelle and send her to a mental asylum, it was her teacher who saw that inner "something special". Years later, Michelle becomes the first deaf-blind person to gain admission at a university to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree. Little does she know, that her teacher starts to develop Alzheimer's disease. After an uphill struggle to attain her BA, Michelle gives a speech to her graduating class. She tells them how for the past 12 years, her teacher would bring her to the graduation ceremony and tell her, "I want to see you there one day." And while he may not be there there to witness her graduate, she tells her class that the reason she is not wearing a graduation robe is because her teacher should be the first to see her in it.

At a mental asylum, Debraj has lost his memory and is even unable to speak. Ironically, after all the years that have passed, it is his student who becomes his teacher. The film is inspired by Helen Keller's life and struggle and certainly evokes a lot of emotions. It had me in tears...for a number of reasons. This film inspired me to write the following.
With students outside the school
With students outside the school
I have had some incredibly memorable teachers throughout my years of schooling. I remember many of my teachers, and I'm still in contact with Mrs Felton, my high school English teacher. I believe that she nurtured the curiosity I had of the English language. Since I was able to read, I had a love for words. Books became my friends. I wanted to create magic like the works of Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter and Roald Dahl.
It is for this reason that my love of writing developed over the years. This is why I thought I would pursue a career in Journalism (even after obtaining my BJourn).

For me, no power is stronger than the power of the pen.

Now that I am in the capacity of being an English teacher myself, I realize that my "job" is so much more than that. Being a "teacher" is merely just one of the many labels I wear. At the best of times, I am also a sister, a confidant and a shoulder to cry on. 

When I look back at some of the letters and messages I have received from students over years gone by, I sometimes sit in awe. Words which I feel are far too great for me, often brings me to tears. Probably the best line I receive from students is, "You taught me more than English." That's when it dawned on me.

My work is merely the platform I have been given to inspire, motivate and manifest magic from these people who are my students.

I can't explain the thrill I get when I see a student blossom before my very eyes. When I see progression, development and hidden talents surface...I sit back and beam with pride. Becoming too emotionally attached to ones work is, of course, a risk and I guess I have been guilty of that too. I know that deep down I have this desire to stop war and poverty.
With my High Int class (2013) at The Heart Museum
With my High Int class (2013) at The Heart Museum
Realistically speaking, I may not be able to put on my super(s)hero cloak and save the world from war, MY own way, I can be a (s)hero in my own world to my students - whether it's from my office or in front of a whiteboard in a classroom, even if it's standing under a tree outside the school. We need to remember that many of our students look up to us in so many ways. Whether we like it or not, we DO become their family away from home.

I have many names at school: "Teacher", "my sister" and sometimes (to my surprise) "mother" or "mum". I take no offence to this. In fact, I embrace the title and for as long as I am able, I too...will shine the light on all those who bring light to MY world.

I extend my deepest gratitude to my colleagues who understand my passion. Not just for English, but for people and understanding what their needs and wants are. Then, to my students (past and present) who challenge me day after day and whose hunger for knowledge is most inspirational.
Thank YOU for reading my piece!
With my Pre-Intermediate class from 2013
With my Pre-Intermediate class from 2013

What have you stolen?

by Sheetal Makhan
14/08 (written in 10mins)

Carefully, slowly, quietly, without being noticed, I confess that I have stolen. 

I stand on the sidelines watching them. They go by in haste. All on their own mission. 
Being a hypocrite.

This saddens me to no end. There are days when I feel like the world is falling apart. 
Like a freshly baked cookie, it crumbles to dust in my fingers. Before my eyes.

Who is responsible for this? Humanity.
I watch in disgust as they... no, we...hurt each other. So much.

This can't be right. I feel it in my heart.
I make a decision that I don't want to be that. I want to live my life peacefully. Wholesome. 

When I was born, the world rejoiced while I, as a baby, cried.
I want to live my life so that when I die, I will rejoice and the world will cry. 
I want a life lived with good moral intentions.

So what have I stolen? 
I have stolen the knowledge of knowing what is right and wrong. 
What is moral and what is not.

We are here to learn from each other and to make informed decisions of what is right and wrong. 
What is black and white.

Who will cry when you die?

Even if it's alone

by Sheetal Makhan
12/08 (written in 5mins)

I've been running ever since I can remember.
Sometimes fast,
Other times, not.
Surrounded by the protection of my parents, family and friends.

I reach a crossroads and I don't know which path to take.

One is filled with the beauty of flowers. Birds are singing in the trees. 
The sun is smiling upon the millions of people there.

But the other path. 
It's empty.
Perhaps it mirrors my inner feelings.
Lined with bare trees. No fruit, flowers or leaves.

The sun? It's absent.
Just like in my heart.
But i'ts raining.
Just like my heart is crying.

And this is a road I know
That I must take.

Even if it's alone.

My pillars

Taken from Google Images

My Pillars
by Sheetal Makhan
Written on 7 August

When we hatch from our eggs, we take our first breath. 
But is it the beginning of our life? 

We have safety and security from the one who birthed us, who loves us sometimes more than she loves herself.

At the age of 31, I look back on my life. 
Years gone by. Successes. Wins. Tribulations. 
There were many times that I flew. 

But the number of times that I fell are uncountable.
There were days that I fell into a deep, dark hole. It was like there was no end to my pain. My heartache. My darkness.

Then, like an angel's touch...soft, gentle, kind, loving, reassuring.
I would fall...into unconditional love. 

Love from my parents. 
Transcending distance & time zones.

My mother. My father
My parents.
My pillars.

My mother. My blood. My life...

In one of my classes recently, we spoke about patriotism and what it really means. What does it mean to be patriotic

Well, this morning, I had a surprise when one of my AY students, Otman Eltalis appeared at my office door. I was surprised because he told me that he wasn't coming to school today as he had to run some errands this morning.

He said: "I just came to give you this," as he handed me a sheet of paper. A piece of writing to mark? Sure! It was nothing out of the ordinary. Until I actually read it. The best way of knowing if something was written from the heart is if it gives the reader goosebumps. It did more than that for me. I could feel Otman's emotions.

With my extra writing sessions that I have with my students, I tell them that they only need to do one thing when they write: Make your words jump off the page and dance!

I interviewed Otman on his very first day at EC Cape Town. He has grown in leaps and bounds, not just with his English, but as a person. I'm so proud of him! With his permission, I would like to share what he has written.
Otman Eltalis from Libya
Otman Eltalis from Libya
by Otman Eltalis 
My name: Libya
My nationality: Libyan
My phone number: Libya
My biography: Libya
I am a patient. I am a villager. I am a national. I am a soldier for protect my country. I am peaceful.

I extend my appreciation to my country everyday. It is my mother, my blood, my life. I left because I was forced. I didn't like homesick, but this is for you. I hope to accept my excuse. I can't forget when you gave my nationality, happiness. I am proud if I say I am from Libya. Sometimes, people ask me, "What is your dream in your life?"

I just have one answer. I say, "My dream when I see my country the first country in the world. When I see my people living in the security. When I see many scientists there. If I see illiterate 1%."

I am not frustrated, but when I remembered Japan in 1945, they lost many buildings and people, but now Japan is first world.

If I to speak English, I will fly in the sky, because this isn't for me.
This is for Libya.

Let me, my teacher, write any word in my mind. I can't stop to learn English until I see my country happy for me. I know Arabic language is people's language for paradise, to learn the language of the people of the security of their evil. I wish believe me, my country. It is my mistress. It is before anyone. I will be write, write, write and write.

I hope smell your soil.
I hope send my greeting with the stars.

I miss my country.
I can't forget it.
This is promise.

Written on Monday, 25 August 2014

Your son, Otman (Libya)
I will keep going...

Life Advice from Abdulgader Alsharif

As part of a writing activity recently, my students had to give advice! As we know, life can be complicated at the best of times and and we often wish there was a handbook for us to refer to, right? Using the letters of the alphabet as prompts for each piece of advice, this is what my AY student, Abdulgader came up with. Enjoy...and take heed!
Abdulgader Alsharif from Libya (taken from Table Mountain)

dvise everyone to good ways or avoid people with dangerous ways.

e smiling everyday, for everyone.

ontinue what you started. Don't give up!

eal with problems in a simple way.

asy life = huge success.

eel your own feelings, but don't be selfish.

ood friends guide you to a good life.

appiness will get a happy life and reach your achievement.

'm possible = I'm pleased.

oke around with your friends close to you.

eep life easy.

Love. Love. Love.

ake fun for yourself and for others to enjoy.

othing is impossible.

ld people have quiet wisdom.

ride of your work leads to success.

uality is magnificent.

ead before writing or speaking.

imple = happy = success. Don't be silly!

ry to always have an open heart.

se your brain for every moment.

isit your friends and family to live in peace.

isdom is your leader.

erox [copy] your good memories.

ield your negative thoughts.

ero is the beginning of your steps.

I can speak English

Ahmed Abujarida from Libya

I have many students who do extra writing for me, over and above what they do in class. One such student is my Academic Year student, Ahmed Abujarida from Libya. He left this piece of writing for me to mark and I felt that it was really written from the heart and I had to share it with all to read.

by Ahmed Abujarida (Libya)
I am going to talk about how I learned English.When I came to Cape Town in April, I didn't know how to speak English with people, but I started to learn English. Also, after three months, I started to speak English and learned a lot of things. For example: vocabulary, listening and grammar. I am really very happy at my school. I would advise everybody who wants to learn English just to speak English. If you're Arabic speaking, speak English even with Arabic students!

If someone speaks Arabic (or their native language) everyday, they will not learn English. Also, I would like to advise people to speak English in the streets - while shopping or anywhere. Then they will improve quickly.

When I started studying at, I started at Elementary level and then I moved to Pre-intermediate level after two months.You will be able to practice and do exercises everyday. Guys, I want you to always speak English at school and in class. I saw a lot of people speaking in their native language and not learning English. I learned this from my teacher, my friends from different countries and my host family.I couldn't believe myself after three months. I can speak English!

Guys, please! I want you to speak English as much as possible, because this is very good, worthwhile and important for you!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

It's my responsibility

I was prepared to teach the unit on "Medicine" with grammar points and listening exercises. I could instantly feel that the energy levels weren't to my satisfaction. Some students sat there, clearly preoccupied. It didn't take long before the energy affected others in the class.

After I set them off on their first speaking activity, I could see that it was going nowhere.

"Do you trust me?" I asked my class.
"Yes, of course," they replied.

"You know that nothing I do with you will be a waste of your time, right?" I asked.
They nodded.

"Please close your books and clear your desk. You only need a piece of paper," I instructed.
They followed my instructions.

And so...using the same picture as I did with my group yesterday, I gave them 10 minutes to write about whatever emotions were evoked when they saw this.

From Google Images
Some students wrote vigorously. Others sat tapping their pencil on the desk. Paper, blank. I refused to believe that their minds were blank, too. If anything, it was the opposite.

I paused next to one of my solemn-looking students. I could see he was battling. We looked at the picture again. Slowly, I could see him opening up and he started to see beyond the surface. It wasn't planned that my students would stand up and present their pieces with the rest of us, but it turned out to be a really good exercise. Some students spoke with a lump in their throat, while others showed a much softer side to themselves.

I sat there in awe. Beaming with pride. When the class was over, they admitted that their hearts felt lighter.

One of my students, Mohi, happened to be in my office just after my class. I shared what happened in my class with him. He noted that I was very sensitive about my students and their feelings.

"How can I not be?" I asked him.

I thought about this further during the day.

How am I possibly meant to teach (anything) when my students sit in front of me looking and feeling listless. With their minds preoccupied, far far away, of course it affects me, their teacher. I may as well not teach anything.

I sometimes need to break through to them before even attempting any kind of activity. Whether I do this by means of a joke or a short piece of music, it is by all means, my responsibility to ensure that they are fully with me during my lesson.
Anyway, just wanted to shared that today...
Hope YOU had a great day!

The Mohamed Abogila

The Hope
by Mohamed Abogila (in Libya)

I can do something.

You can do something.
We can do something.

What's going on?

First of all, I would like to say I am from Libya!
Which means I am proud to be Libyan.

I am a person who likes his country very much and I always speak about the real history

What's going on?!
We don't have..!
We have to..!

Libya is going down. It's going to hell.
Sorry to say that, but it's the truth.

Why? Simply, this country misses the hope and the hope and the hope.

They give up.
They are impatient.
They are selfish.
They are weak.

Hope to be challenging and
do to have, do to get.

Hope to be patient and take breath and relax without any stress.

Hope to be humble and friends and smile.

Let me tell the world something.

Libya is fire. To burn even you.
You can't touch or do something.

The people are the dark, which means...
You can't see if you want to think to steal or destroy something..

I am like the air.
Free and fresh...
Which means
If there is a problem, I can push it away.
Far away.

Are we ready?
Ready to do...

This word, "do" means a lot.
If you agree, we should do.

I am sure I know we have the ability,
but when are you going to start?
When are you going to feel?
And when are you going to win?

Life is a game and I will win.

Hope to be a strong, powerful hero.

We are here.
Today, but tomorrow...
We don't know.

Where will we be?

This country could be the best and the worst.
About the people, actually.

People can do, feel, make, hurt, decide and hope.

They can make this country.
He loves to show the fire on the ice. How is it?

Libya. Yeah, it's one word, but it means the power.

I've been to many places.
They asked me, "Where are you from?"

I just give a big smile. With myself, I am self-confident and I reply, I am from LIBYA.
I feel like the King in the castle or fire to burn or dry to die.

Libya is not the problem.
The real problem is us.

Any country has bad things, but also - there is a solution.

It's like a game.
You have to be the winner.
To survive.
To be free.

Like the lion in the jungle.
Strong, smart and organized. 

Am I crazy?
Simply, no...

I am too crazy of loving my country.
It's my morning to the evening...until the night.
It's my blood.

No one can live without blood.
Which means we have to love our country.
To defend from any bad things.

Libya is a country and it will fly, shine, high in the sky.
In the world.
On my paper.
And in our hearts.


Monday, August 4, 2014

I will Sheetal

From Google Images

The world thinks I'm small.
I'm at the bottom of the food chain.

They all underestimate me. Think I am nothing.
Ha! They don't know that their ridiculing actually fills me up.
Each fall is a reason for me to rise.

There is possibility for me to die. Everyday.
But I know, now is not my time.
Each day is a challenge. A new beginning.
I know where I want to be.

I smell success.
I can taste it.
But how will I get there?
That is a question I ask myself everyday.

The world laughs at me.
Says I'm stupid. Ugly. Worthless.

I will show them. I will win. I will conquer.

Every night I go to bed. Exhausted.
But I wake up invigorated.
I know my purpose.
And I will rise.
To the top.

The Abdulgader

From Google Images

by Abdulgader (Libya)

Our life.
Easy. Difficult.
Everything makes us either annoyed or comfortable.

What do I want?
What do I need?

If you are a hard worker, nothing is impossible.
Even small animals works to feed herself
or for her children to grow up being joyful one day.

Start in the morning until late in the evening.
Ants. People. Elephants. Bees
They like to try many difficult things in their lives.

The more you jump, the more you grow.

Don't give your heart to the hopeless.
Keep going to the top.
Nothing is impossible.

Larger than its Marwan

From Google Images
Larger than its size
by Marwan (Libya)

This picture is very expressive (it carries good meaning). It talks about the ant. It's a small animal, but it has incredible activity. It works all the time and does not feel bored.

This picture teaches us how to work without boredom and to face challenging difficulties.

The ant works hard and co-operates with each other to build their castle and storage for food.

The meaning? The ant has a job that is larger than its size.

It still has the Mustafa

From Google Images

It still has the power
by Mustafa (Libya)

The picture appears how the ant is working. How it lives in the desert. On the rocks. Besides the sea, on the beach...and it still has the power until sunset.

It tried to live in hard areas and with multiple difficult interventions, like who can get her food and living facility?

It is an amazing picture and I hope that the human must know how difficult it is to get a good life without hard work.

No pain. No gain.

I won't Mohamed

From Google Images
I won't surrender
by Mohamed (Libya)

I can see the ant.
It will try to do something difficult.
With the end of the day, it keeps trying
...and it's tomorrow.

It's a new day.
And I will try again.
So whatever.
I will try again and again.

And I won't surrender.
Every day is a new start.

If the world doesn't support me,
I can support myself.

When I fail in something,
I try to go to the top.
I will try and I will do.
Finally, I do.

Nothing is impossible.
I am possible.

No pain.
No gain.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Let me go with Mohi

Many know that I can gush about my students. But who can blame me? At the best of times, they produce little pieces of treasure, like the one I'd like to share in this post. I beam with pride and want to share it with as many as I can.

I have a group of students who meet me on a weekly basis. For a set period of time, we all (myself included) write on a given topic / prompt. My purpose is not to improve grammar or "teach" so to speak. I do this because I want my students to see words as I do. I want them to see that words are powerful. If used correctly, they can lift off a page and dance around - evoking all kinds of emotions.

For this particular piece, I gave students the first line, which they would have to continue writing on.
They all did so well, but I'd like to share one in particular today. Very well-written, Mohi!

by Mohidin Amar Esaadi (31/07)
"Darling, it's beautiful...thank you!"

Oh, my dear. You always surprise me. 
Do you believe me? I always wished for this gift, especially from you.

You are so late to arrive at my party. 
It was so boring without you, but now -  I forgive you.

My love, you are inside me...reading my thoughts, my feelings. 
You suspect my reaction to everything.

You have all the keys of the doors to my heart, running inside me like blood.
You are my world. My air. My spirit. 
I'm with you felling love, stability, peacefulness. 
Feeling like I have everything. 

Without you, I'm lost in this world feeling alone and sad. 

What are you doing to me?
Who are you?

Are you breathing like us (people)?
Eating when you're hungry, drinking when you're thirsty?
I don't think so. Maybe you are an angel from the sky. 

Let me go with you...far away from this sad world. 
Maybe to the moon.