Selina Ho

Time flies when you’re teaching English: looking back on 25 rewarding years

Twenty-five years ago, Selina responded to a newspaper ad looking for volunteer teachers at what was then the Community Cultures Institute. Fast forward to today, and CCI-LEX is an established school with over 100 active volunteers in its LEX program annually, serving hundreds of students from all over the world. Selina, now the school’s longest-serving current volunteer, recalls its humble beginnings.

With no formal training and no existing curriculum or lesson plans, Selina would “teach what I know … with my heart”. She still remembers coming in for her initial interview and having to teach a class on the spot! Much has changed since then, and there is now a set curriculum with textbooks for each level, including lessons that are well planned and easy to follow for teachers and students alike. The school also offers training and professional development for both paid teachers and volunteers.

CCI-LEX has achieved many milestones over the last decade – “a credit to its wonderful Executive Director, Anne-Marie” – becoming a charitable organization in 2014, rebranding in 2019, and weathering the COVID-19 pandemic with a transition to online learning. It has secured regular funding and donor support which has helped grow its programs and staff, as well as invest in new learning technologies. Most recently, the school relocated to a new space which was designed specifically to meet its students’ and teachers’ needs, and includes interactive media displays and dedicated spaces for studying and socializing.

Selina has almost exclusively taught the LEX beginner level. She believes it is important to help students build a strong language foundation, and finds it rewarding to see the growth and progress that happens over a semester. She reminds her students to be patient and to keep practicing despite their frustrations and mistakes, and she loves seeing the “gleam of happiness on their faces” when something clicks.

Selina says that teaching English has been a positive force in her life, and she very much enjoys seeing her students grow both in their English language skills and their lives. An important reason she has stayed on with CCI-LEX for so long is because of the constant appreciation that the school shows its volunteers by remembering and celebrating their birthdays and milestones – including Selina’s 25th anniversary as a volunteer, which was met with a surprise in-class celebration. “The warm, welcoming atmosphere in the office and the friendly and helpful staff make me feel a sense of belonging.”