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Julien Wilkens is 49 and teaches the beginner class at the English in Mind Institute (EIM).

At the end of the 2012 school year, every one of Wilkens' students passed their exams and will move onto the Elementary level. These fantastic results come down to the high quality of Wilkens' teaching and the extra hours he put in tutoring and supporting students unpaid in his free time.

Like so many of our students and teachers, Wilkens has overcome incredible challenges in the past three years. “[Before the earthquake] I was working as a tailor… [But] my house wasn't safe after the earthquake so since I work from home, I had to stop my business for six months. I was living with family for a while and afterwards I got a new apartment.”

Despite his own struggles, Wilkens found time to volunteer after the earthquake. He worked through his church to distribute food and water to people in a displaced persons camp and translate for survivors who needed to talk to international NGOs.

Wilkens also volunteered as an English teacher with Brunel long before IDV arrived. Our first work with Wilkens was to help him perfect his grammar, as while he could make himself understood his English had some errors. “I was a [volunteer] teacher…and IDV members gave an advanced course to the teachers. For my previous experience I spoke English, but, [for example] I could not ask questions in the third person regular past.”

While Wilkens' English is still at a level where he can only teach our beginner class, he is improving weekly as he continues his study of English with his other teachers. In fact, Wilkens says that being a part of a team of teachers is his favourite thing about EIM.

We asked Wilkens why he spent so much time as a volunteer, and how his experiences today compare to his time volunteering as a teacher: “I wanted to keep my English skills up so I started teaching. [I also wanted] to help others learn. EIM is an improvement because we have a foreign team to help us and provide us with supplies like books, CDs, DVDs. I also have more students and more support.”

Like many of our teachers, Wilkens is incredibly invested in his students. “I am very proud of my students. They are so interested in learning English. A few of them have had to miss classes so I have met with them at extra times so that they can keep up and stay with the class.”

We asked Wilkens what his hopes were for the school.

“The goal of all the teachers and students [is to] … speak English fluently like a native speaker. I think that can happen here. If we had to stop the school for some reason it would be really sad for us because we really believe in the course. We can't even imagine having to stop it.”

It costs just €114 (£93, $150) a month to keep Wilkens teaching. Please give what you can to support Wilkens' hard work.

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