When Chester Pun-Chuen immigrated to Knoxville in 1983, he didn’t expect to be an English teacher. He grew up speaking Filipino and English, with a bit of Cantonese from his father. In high school and college, he studied Spanish.
A couple of years ago, while leading his church’s Unity in Diversity ministry, Chester’s pastor asked him and his wife to assist a refugee family from Burundi. He didn’t expect to build such strong relationships with this mother and her four kids. The mom depended on the children to translate for her. Chester knew that was no way to build a life here in Knoxville, but what could he do?
Soon, Chester “stumbled into” Ladies of Charity and talked to Susan about his concern. He didn’t expect her reaction. She said, “You are just a gift from Heaven!” because many non-English speakers pass through their facility regularly. Chester researched for more than six months before he took KIN’s volunteer ESL teacher training. Afterward, KIN’s director helped him organize an adult English class at Ladies of Charity.
The first class started in June 2018, with Chester as the lead teacher. He had eight students. When they finished the first set of lessons, they added a second class of eight beginners and a couple of additional teachers while his original eight moved on to the next level. Now (June 2019) they have three classes with a total of twenty-four students, and this June, they will add a fourth class!
Recently, sixteen students from six countries “graduated” at Ladies of Charity, and each one presented a speech. Chester says of them, “I am very proud. It’s beyond expectation. You witness transformation.”
READY TO GET INVOLVED?
It’s not as hard as you might expect to start a church-based adult English class through KIN. In fact, we train 12 or more new leaders every quarter, and we coach new and rebooting programs all the time! If you’re interested, click to get information about adult English teacher certification or contact us about starting a program in your church or organization.
Read the stories of Knoxville's local internationals and the volunteers who have impacted their lives. Get a first-hand view of what it's like to move here and/or to serve those who've moved here from other countries. Discover how KIN has impacted life and culture in metro Knoxville.