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Language Learning Part 2: Empowering a Community Through the Power of Language

Written by Evan T. Flatt, Alumni Relations and Communications Coordinator
Edited by Dana Brantley, Senior Program Manager 

In Part 1 of our two-part Language Learning blog series, we highlighted the impact the Community College Initiative (CCI) Program has on participants as they strengthen their English language proficiency during their exchange. In Part 2 of our series, we focus on the impact that enhancing English language skills during the CCI Program has had on alumni by empowering them to support and facilitate positive change in their home countries.

Teachers regularly go above and beyond for their students, providing school supplies, games, and room decorations oftentimes out of their budgets. But for CCI alumna Dince Abanat (Indonesia, Northampton Community College, Early Childhood Development, 2016-2017) that is just the beginning. For Dince, the founder of a local Indonesian educational non-profit, building an outdoor library, overseeing repairs to the school building, leading doctor checkups, reviewing program finances, providing mental health assistance, and teaching is all in a day’s work.

Supporting Indonesian Youth

Dince was inspired to found her non-profit Lopo Belajar Anak Timor (LBAT) after interacting with children in her community who came from underprivileged backgrounds or who struggled with special needs. These children were often unable to get the proper education they deserved due to limited funds or prohibitive circumstances. Dince felt she had the moral obligation to create opportunities for a brighter future for these children, and set to work on her non-profit.

Since LBAT was founded in 2020, they have regularly served more than 200 children in their rural Indonesian community. The LBAT team has organized a free English learning club and library as well as donations for local elementary schools, supported children with emotional counseling, led an early childhood development program for over 100 parents and children, and provided annual medical checkups.

Dince Abanat handing out one of the first books from the LBAT library to a young student.

As the head of the program, Dince juggles many different responsibilities: overseeing the development of annual program objectives, reviewing learning plans, auditing program finances, and leading a special English club are part of her daily routine.

The Impact of the CCI Program

Dince credits the success of LBAT to her experience studying early childhood education at Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania during her CCI Program. “My experience of studying in the U.S has given me opportunities to use English for communication and to connect to people from different countries. [..] I am now more confident [speaking] in English and support[ing] others in my community to learn English. [That’s why] I set up the English club, where I am able to not only teach English for children but also share my experience and motivate them to pursue their dreams to study abroad!”

While in the United States, Dince learned valuable skills both through her academics and volunteerism. In the classroom she learned about classroom management, understanding youth learning patterns, curriculum development, and class lesson planning – which revolutionized her approach to teaching. Outside of the classroom, Dince was an active participant in service activities, spending over 140 hours volunteering in her U.S community. Volunteering left a major impact on Dince, who discovered how critical it is to uplift others in the community and serve those in need.

Dince Abanat holding an American flag with a fellow Indonesian student during the International Education Week celebrations at Northampton Community College in 2016.

To Dince, teaching children English isn’t just about helping children meet requirements set by the Indonesian government. Teaching English represents so much more. For the children, it’s an opportunity to learn about the diversity of the outside world, it’s a conduit to pursue their dreams, and it’s a guide to learning and following their educational desires.

During the pandemic, LBAT has taken on an even more vital role in its community. Outside of just education, the program now shares information on pandemic safety and World Health Organization best practices to community members who otherwise wouldn’t have access to such information.

The Future

Dince is not one to rest on her accomplishments. Currently, she has plans to expand LBAT by opening a new free preschool in a neighboring village. But she won’t stop there either. She is also in process of preparing a new curriculum designed specifically for the mothers of the children her program supports. Her curriculum intends to empower these women by giving instruction on public speaking and leadership skills.

Dince’s story exemplifies the impact of the CCI Program’s emphasis on English language skills development. For many, the English language is a means to connect with those from around the world through a shared common tongue, to become better global citizens, and to empower positive change through the exchange of powerful ideas.

Last Updated: Oct 15, 2021 @ 10:03 am
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