Culture

Africa Madrid. The adventure of teaching

Africa has been teaching Religion for more than 20 years. She is currently a teacher at IES Rayuela in Mostoles. She teaches students of all grades of Secondary and Baccalaureate. She is also a catechist in the Sacred Heart parish of Alcorcón. Before Religion, she taught Art History.

Omnes-June 12, 2017-Reading time: 3 minutes
Religion class in elementary school.

"Being a religion teacher was not in my plans, although I had always been interested in religious topics. In Ciudad Real I had studied in a school of nuns. I wondered why they were so happy and in love with God. I wanted to know more."says Africa. She decided to study theology, motivated by a friend whose wife taught religion. "Without realizing it, I was changing. I was called to teach at the school. I started teaching Religion, and I discovered what made me happy. It has nothing to do with any other subject because of the closeness you have with the students, the topics you deal with and the questions they ask you." 

Africa considers that teaching Religion also teaches Art History, because culture is connatural to religions. She applies knowledge of Art History to the subject, as well as literature and other forms of cultural expression. "We consult sources, to learn from experts more aspects about the topics discussed. There are many things about faith that can be reasoned. I only give them tools to reflect. I try to transmit that to them with objective sources, listening, without closing their minds." He adds: "we give Catholic Christian culture, not catechesis".

First and foremost, he stresses the importance of the subject: "I think every religion teacher has to be aware that this subject is very important. I tell my students not to navel gaze. Life doesn't work the way you want it to". In addition, he reminds them that "Whatever Jesus said, he did. He taught forgiveness.

During the interview, you can sense the passion Africa feels in her commitment to teaching. Although she has been through many difficult situations, she boasts of her optimism, vital to solve all kinds of problems.

Recognizes that "Several people have complimented me on how much they knew. Because what is taught with love is easily learned. What really moves them is that the things I tell them about are not stories. There are many reasons to thank God for. When you are happy or sad, He is with you. The key is that you convey something that moves you. I am often asked why I am so happy. I am a very lucky person. Someone has even told me that he has never been happier to enter a subject like this, and that if I didn't do these activities with these students, other places would do them for us". In fact, on one of the cultural excursions they have taken, a tour guide was surprised by the pupils' knowledge of Africa.

He explains that it was decided to put Religion in Bachillerato two hours a week: first thing in the morning and seventh hour (those who did not study it did not have class). Even so, with the possibility of sleeping more and leaving an hour earlier, Africa has always had huge groups of high school students. "They love, they are passionate about everything that comes from Jesus. They think about his courage. I want them to believe that they can change the world." Self-confident, she makes it clear that she has never had any complexes. "Because what I do is very important, because you're not doing it for you, you're doing it for the Lord. It fills me up to see that you are making people better."

In addition, after school hours they do volunteer work, where the vast majority of their students also collaborate, whether in soup kitchens, hospitals, etc. One of the places where they do solidarity work is the San Simón de Rojas soup kitchen in Móstoles. One of the experiences that has impacted him the most is the encounter with a former student of his who was in poverty. For this reason, he urges his students to take advantage of the opportunities available at the school. "Whenever we do an activity, they write a reflection. It makes a big impression on them."

In February he was fortunate enough to meet Pope Francis in person at the Vatican. "It has marked my life." she commented emotionally recalling this experience. She felt his closeness, said she loved him and thanked his family and students for his blessing. It has been an incentive for her enthusiasm for life and for her profession. With teachers like Africa the subject of Religion is very well learned.

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