Because of Bilingual Canada

African sunset

One of our sons, Anthony, was Director of a mission school in Ethiopia. The school was under the auspices of the Canadian government. Canada is officially bilingual and so the school had to teach both French and English. It was primarily a school for missionaries’ children, but, by government decree it could have other students who held foreign passports. Many were children of people associated with the UN or Africa Unity. There were a few Ethiopians, like the ex-emperor’s granddaughter, who had foreign passports.

Meanwhile whilst practising in Australia, upon reaching 65, I retired.

The school lost its French teacher. She was to get married. They tried to find a replacement but without luck. It looked as if the school might have to close. I was, as I said, retired; our son remembered that I had learned French at High School; he pressured me to fill in for him until they found another French teacher. I had used my French a bit when working in French West Africa. Reluctantly I agreed. I guess he realised that as I had been involved in teaching surgery for years that I should be capable of teaching High School students. The government gave me a visa as a teacher.

So for two years I was year 10 home room teacher and I taught years 8, 9 and10 French; for one  year grade 8 science; and for both years year 10 Bible. I don’t know if the students enjoyed me, but I enjoyed them! This occupied my time 4 mornings a week.

Initially they were a bit terrified of being taught by the Director’s father. But I’m a bit of a softie and soon I was treated as any other teacher. They had a healthy respect for the Director.

At the end of year 10 they had an international exam and I’m pleased that none failed French. Each year 50% got A or A+. I suspect their brightness rather than my teaching got them there.

Two of my ex-surgical trainees, by now surgeons, got to hear that I was back in the country and they pressed me to help them a bit. So that 3 afternoons per week I worked with one of them in a hospital in the capital. On the Thursday after lunch I travelled 100 km south-west and saw patients whom my other friend had lined up for surgery, then we did a teaching round. On the Friday I operated all day, then, on Saturday saw the patients who had been operated on the day before and travelled back to Addis.

I had planned to return for a third year but during the long school break was diagnosed with cancer. As you are reading this, you can see that the treatment was successful.

I still keep in contact with some of them. It makes me feel old when I hear of their marriages and of them parenting their second and third kids!

Dominic Cartier

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