Philip Duarte – Peru: “Teaching Violin…in a Different Language”

Coming to Peru as a missionary is quite a unique experience. I’m originally from Japan, so at the age of 12 I came over to California, and having experienced culture shock then, I knew what was coming, more or less. I knew I would have to get used to the different life-style, a whole new language, different food, and much more. However, going through this whole experience before in America as a 12 year-old, and going through this as an adult are two different experiences.

There is also the teaching aspect. I teach violin at a university, and the job presents itself a huge problem because  I don’t speak Spanish. However, I have quickly picked up some of the essential words to know in order to teach them effectively. For example: mas fuerte, mas suave, mas alto, and mas bajo (“stronger,” “softer,” “higher,” and “lower”). I believe that It’s important to be able to fix the problems that they face, but it can be discouraging to only hear “more this” and “more that,” so I have also learned encouraging words such as, muy bien, suena bien, esta bien, and buen trabajo (“very good,” “sounds good,” “it’s ok,” and “good job.”)

I have a wide range of levels in students from beginner to advanced and each student has different needs. The difference between a private lesson and a classroom setting is that the teacher needs to accommodate to the students needs.  In a classroom setting, often times the teacher won’t have time during class to focus on one individual, therefore needs to teach to the masses. In a private lesson, the teacher usually will have a general ideal of what they would like to accomplish with the students but there is a lot of improvisation. The teacher needs to help the student by listening to the problematic areas and address the issue according to the way the student learns at the speed at which he learns (and we all know everyone learns differently and at different speeds).

There are many challenges and frustrations but one thing I am learning to do is trusting God and being at peace with the current situation rather it be bad or good. There will always be many challenges throughout my lifetime and being angry or being negative (which comes naturally to me) about the situation will do no good, so God has been teaching me to look at the bright side more often and be positive. It has been very good to be a missionary and I hope that God will continue to help me grow.

*Philip Duarte is a student missionary from Southern Adventist University (through Adventist Volunteer Service). He is serving as a Musician/Violin Teacher in Peru.

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