Mabel Prieto Ariza
Mabel has a background in project management and auditing in the fields of Social Policy, International Development and Financial Services for more than 12 years. She has worked for the Spanish Government, the European Commission and the Private sector. She is a certified auditor and holds a High-Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Administration.
I am here to build a strong network of solidarity that shares knowledge, where every member learns from each other. A network that unlocks opportunities and contributes to building more tolerant and inclusive societies. Language Beyond Borders is about creating hope. As Noam Chomsky said “If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world.”
Happy World Teachers’ Day to all of our volunteers!
We are so proud of our teachers, of their skill and dedication to what they do, but also of the diversity among our team.
We have teachers of all ages, from 18 to 71, living in and hailing from countries all over the world!
Our volunteers come from 42 countries, 23% are British, 12% from the US, 5% are Indian and 5% are Australian. We are also honoured to have teachers from Spain, Palestine, South Africa, Morocco, and Romania on our team, and many others!
Together, we live across 51 countries! 9% in Spain, and 9% in UK, with other popular countries being Morocco, Mexico, Portugal, Argentina and Brazil.
Thank you to our wonderful team, and to all teachers everywhere, today and every day!
We are celebrating that Khuloud and Sahel, who were part of our very first group of students back in Spring of 2018, have just passed their interview for permanent settlement in Canada.
They might get there in just 6 weeks after years of waiting. There are a few more things for them to sort out but it looks like all systems are go for Khuloud and family! We are so delighted for them! Khuloud, Sahel and their 2 young daughters have been in Ghana since the start of the Syrian conflict.
Sahel is a talented graphic artist and Khuloud is a journalist. Sahel was interrogated at the start of the conflict, after which the family went to Ghana to visit relatives and give themselves some time away from the problems. Thinking that things would quieten down, they received news while away that their house had been ransacked and that it wasn’t safe for the family to return.
They have been waiting for the chance to continue their lives in peace and safety, and to provide their daughters with a future of hope, joy, and opportunities. We wish them all the best and admire their resilience. We know they will thrive in Canada.
I met Ramtin in person today! A year and a half ago he was part of our very first group of students. During this time, I’ve felt his highs and lows and finally, he was granted asylum in Spain.
As soon as he had his flight ticket he sent the details to me. He was to arrive in Madrid at 10:35 am, I could go to the airport to welcome him! The night before his journey we exchanged messages and I wished him a good flight.
Today I went to the airport to wait for him. He phoned me from a Spanish phone number and told me he was going to León city, that he wouldn’t stay in Madrid. I reassured him he would be fine there. Then he passed the phone to the social worker from the organisation that will take care of him in his new city. They told me that he was ok, completing the process of his entry to Spain – at the other end of the airport: I ran determined to see him. I phoned again to check where they were: still waiting for the police checks.
They told me there were 7 refugees in Ramtins group and it would take a while. I waited for another hour and phoned again. This time they told me they were outside the airport but they had left by a different door. I asked for directions to their location: I ran, again. In the distance, I could see the bus, and they were about to get on it. Ramtin spotted me from afar and he ran to me! We hugged and smiled. What a moment!
It was so exciting, so emotional, one that will stay with me forever. I was so happy for him! He started telling me that he was going to another city again and that he wanted to stay in Madrid and that he needed to learn the language. I told him he’d be fine and you’ll learn the language, get a job and then you can move to the city where that job is.
We hugged again several times! I met the social workers and exchanged numbers, I told them we had been friends for the last 1.5 year and that he was one of our first students. The caseworkers were excited to see us meet. It was brief and all too soon they left, but it was enough to see him, make him feel welcome.
We’ll meet again soon I’m sure.
The Autumn term in Language Beyond Borders has officially started! Our first group of students from Khalil in the West Bank, Palestine, started studying with us last week and they are off to a great start!
But what do they think of their classes?
“It was great, I loved it!” Rawan, Student.
“I have to say I’m amazed at the calibre of student, their English was good and they all had terrific personalities!” Nick, Conversation Partner.
“I kept smiling for a couple of hours after I’d finished the class on Sunday!” Alexandra, Teacher.
We’d like to thank all involved for the hard work that has gone into these classes, from students and teachers, to Class Coordinators and partners, everyone involved plays a small part in improving the lives of people unfairly impacted by conflict or fleeing persecution.
We can’t wait to see how much progress will have been made by these students when they complete their level assessments at the end of the term!
This term, the starting dates of the various groups are staggered: in a few weeks a second group in Palestine, this time in Gaza, will start their classes; after that, our three UK programmes will get off to a start; and then our privately sponsored students, from Ghana to Papua New Guinnea and many places inbetween, will start their classes.
Good luck to everyone this term!
Anayet started studying with his LBB teacher, Dawn, in early May of this 2019. Anayet lives in a refugee camp for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, where he teaches English to the children in the UNHCR-founded primary school.
What he is learning in class with Dawn doesn’t just help him, it empowers future generations of Rohingya to be able to tell their stories to the world. Part of that story is today: the 2nd International Day of Remembrance for the Rohingya Genocide.
Anayet has taken part in a rally for the event and has organised a public forum so that those affected can tell their stories and work together to support their own community. We have watched as many of the issues still affecting our students fade from public view: the Syrian conflict; Manus Island; those lives lost in the mediterranean; and the Rohingya tragedy.
The media spotlight may have moved on but the crisis isn’t over for many of those directly affected. We fully support Anayet in his work to get the word out and tell the world about the plight of the Rohingya.
It is almost a year since we first connected our volunteer teachers and conversation partners with students kept in detention on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea.
For months, we have witnessed our students’ struggle to cope with injustice and to keep hope alive, and we did our best to support them with much needed language skills and a human connection.
A few months ago we wrote a statement about this situation and asked Hassan Al Kontar, a high profile refugee and advocate, now in Canada, for help with raising awareness of how critical the situation had become. He mentioned working on a massive project related to just that.
This project is Operation #NotForgotten. They have now launched a campaign to raise 3.3 million dollars to rescue almost 200 people – refugees and asylum seekers trapped for years in PNG – by using the Canadian private sponsorship programme.
A beautiful idea from an expert in (re)gaining hope and addressing the world via any medium available. This CAN work! Join a global initiative & donate any amount for Operation #NotForgotten.
Daniel has safely completed his swim for Language Beyond Borders and has written to us the following message. His words are powerful and worth the read. We can’t thank him enough! “Hello everyone again! I’m now recovered from the extraordinary experience of swimming across the Strait of Gibraltar.
5 hours and 17 minutes to swim 17.3 km, diverted from the point of arrival because of strong currents, and with the water at 14 ºC. A very choppy sea right from the start put the whole challenge in jeopardy. Luckily I could finish, although with quite a lot of effort. I can’t help thinking that many people, even without knowing how to swim some of them, can get into a precarious boat trying to reach our shores…
Now that I know first-hand the maritime conditions of the Strait, I’m deeply shocked. I want to thank every one of you for your support and contribution to the exceptional mission of Language Beyond Borders.
In the moments that I was losing strength and my head was taking over, the personal commitment that I had with each of you fuelled me to keep swimming. You were part of this adventure. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your help and the chance LBB has given me to raise awareness of their work, it’s been an honour.
A big hug and hope we’ll be in touch soon. There are still many challenges to overcome! ” Daniel will keep the crowdfunding open til the 22nd of August.
Support his efforts and our work if you can. https://www.gofundme.com/StraitGibraltar
Alexandra was one of our first language teachers and class coordinators. Together with Fiona, she developed and set up our brilliant online training program for language teachers and conversation partners.
Alex is an invaluable member of our team. Here are some Alex’s reflections on her work: “Two of the key values which guide my work are continuing learning and collaboration.The online training course for LBB Teachers had both and a bit more.
I felt I could put to good use so much from what I had learnt as a volunteer teacher and coordinator, and also partner with inspiring professionals. I have always been grateful to my formal and informal trainers, to anyone who asked good questions and challenged me to improve myself.
And LBB teachers did ask good questions and shared relevant experiences. So I could basically feel it at every stage of the project we were actually more than three involved. Trainees’ comments confirmed that, they add so much value! Thank you everyone, lovely learning with & from all of you.💜” Alex
Daniel is swimming the Strait of Gibraltar today!
If that sounds easy to you, he assures us it won’t be! For starters, there are strong undercurrents of up to 5.5 km/h, and possible winds which can change without warning. This makes swimming, and even sailing in a small boat particularly perilous.
On top of that, the water is very cold for such a long swim at 20-22ºC. That might sound ok for a quick dip, but Daniel could be in the water for over 5 hours! In addition to the water itself, the Strait is home to dolphins, orcas and whales.
But don’t worry, Daniel is swimming in a small group of swimmers, and the group are in contact with the maritime traffic controllers who are controlling the timing of the swim. In addition, a small boat will accompany the group to ensure the welfare of all the swimmers.
Daniel is taking this risk so that those we work with at Language Beyond Borders can have a better chance at a dignified future. Think of Daniel today, and think of the many others who have swum in the opposite direction without the support that Daniel has.
Give what you can to support him today – http://bit.ly/swimStraitofGibraltar
Ánimo Dani! And a huge thank you from all of us!
Our online training course for new volunteers is now up and running and will remain open until 20th August only!
Our online training covers everything from technical know-how essential for teaching online, to recommended teaching resources, and of course covers the unique needs of our learners. On this course you will learn about ways to handle vicarious, or secondary trauma, you can also see examples of online classes with real LBB teachers and students, and we run through the policies and procedures of our programmes.
We hope it will leave none of the teachers’ questions unanswered, but if they have any queries or questions at any point, we encourage them to speak to each other during the course, and all activity is moderated by our core team.
Some volunteers have finished already! That’s what we call keen! This is what they have to say: “I found the whole course really useful especially the videos, testimonials and comments”, “The general tone was professional but also warm, friendly and supportive.”