SCJ takes ESL training to Asia

Br. Long Nguyen at a recent province gathering.

“This is an excellent opportunity to share… the lived reality of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in other parts of the world”

-Br. Long Nguyen, SCJ

After earning a teaching certificate last year from the Wisconsin English as a Second Language Institute (WESLI) Br. Long Nguyen, SCJ, is going to do a bit of a “practicum.”

“I had been helping with the ESL program at Sacred Heart School of Theology,” said Br. Long, who emphasized that his work was generally with the non-academic portions of the program, not teaching itself. “I started to think that maybe I had an aptitude for teaching. The province allowed me to enroll in WESLI last January and earn my teaching certification.”

However, in the midst of his classes his assignment changed. Last spring Br. Long was asked to join the team at the province vocation office.  “But when he gave me the assignment Fr. Cassidy [provincial superior] said that it would be with the understanding that I would still put my ESL training to use,” said Br. Long.

Br. Long talks about going to the Philippines.

Br. Long will teach ESL, but instead of at SHST he will go to the Philippines where the SCJs have an international student program. He will be there from January 15 through February 15 assisting with one of the three-week ESL sessions for SCJ students.

English has become a common language in many of the SCJs’ Asian communities, and it is often the language of higher education. However, most Asian students are new to English, or only have a rudimentary knowledge of it.

Several SCJs from the U.S. Province have gone to the Philippines to assist with the district’s ESL program. As Fr. Bernie Rosinski, SCJ, noted when he went last year, “The students hear English with Brazilian, Argentine, Italian, Polish and Indonesian accents. They seemingly hear every kind of English except that of a native speaker.”

The Philippine mission is a very international one. The district superior is Brazilian and the district secretary is Polish. English is the working language of the district but none of the district’s members is a native English speaker.

Although his family is of Vietnamese descent, Br. Long grew up in Louisiana (he was born just across the Louisiana border in Port Arthur, Texas) and he will bring to the Philippines not only his teaching skills, but a slight southern drawl as well. Br. Long speaks Vietnamese (“casual Vietnamese,” he clarified), but English is his first language.

“I’m looking forward to using my teaching skills, but I am also excited to travel overseas for the first time and get a better sense of the international congregation,” said Br. Long. “And I love to meet new people and learn about different realities.”

He added that “it’s funny, my family is Vietnamese, but this will be the first time that I will be in Asia.” It will also be his first experience of an SCJ community outside of North America.

Most of the students in the upcoming ESL session are from Vietnam, so Br. Long’s Vietnamese language skills will come in handy.

As did Fr. Bernie, Br. Long will be working with an ESL teacher who has directed the SCJs’ English program in the Philippines for several years. Br. Long said that he received the syllabus for the class and much of it was “a format that I was familiar with; it is the style that I learned when I got my teaching certificate.”

During his month Br. Long hopes to continue his ministry with the vocation office as well by sharing with potential candidates some of what he experiences of the SCJs’ mission in the Philippines.

“There are several people I have been accompanying on their vocational journey,” he said. “As they discern their own vocation they often ask questions about mine and how it is lived and how it has evolved. This is an excellent opportunity to share with them, and others, more about our international community; more about the lived reality of the Priests of the Sacred Heart in other parts of the world.”

Besides following in the footsteps of Fr. Bernie and other SCJs from the U.S. Province, Br. Long will also follow in the footsteps of his novitiate classmate Br. Brian Tompkins, SCJ, from the Canadian Region. Br. Brian did his final vows program in the Philippines.

“He has had many positive things to say about the Philippines; he loved his experience there,” said Br. Long. “Although he keeps trying to scare me with stories about the large bugs he saw there, but I’m from Louisiana’s bayou country. I’ve seen plenty of bugs already!”