Liberty English Camp in Lithuania

Atlasphere member Stephen Browne forwards the following newsletter about the Liberty English Camp in Eastern Europe:

Dear Friend of Liberty,

This is just an introductory note for those of you who have expressed an interest in teaching at our next Liberty English Camp. [...] Right now I?m in Wroclaw (formerly Breslau in the turbulent history of this region) in West Poland (once Eastern Germany) taking a teacher training course and have limited time and internet access.

To introduce myself; I am an American now resident in Eastern Europe. I have lived in Poland, Bulgaria, Serbia and Saudi Arabia since 1991 and work here as an English teacher, freelance writer and editor for various foundations and the Polish Academy of Science Annual Report. I also teach marital arts to a small clientele. My wife Monika is Polish and is one of the teachers at our camp. We have a son, not quite two years old now, named Jerzy Waszyngton Browne (that?s George Washington in Polish).

I conceived the idea of the English courses more than ten years ago when I had private lessons with a Polish lawyer who wanted to read Adam Smith in the original. (In the old times he defended dissidents and kids caught putting subversive stickers up in public places ? an offense that could get you seven years hard.) I warned him that the dialect was a bit archaic, he replied that it was, but that it was so much easier to understand because the argumentation was so logically laid out. I don?t even want to think about what this means about modern writing?

From this came the idea of an English course designed to teach students how to read, understand and discuss the documents important to the history of liberty in the English speaking world, in the original language. I have been working on the course material on and off for several years and include it as an attachment. It is not complete, nor am I totally happy with its present form, but this will give you an idea of what we are trying to do. And the introduction gives a quick overview of the methodology we use to get people who are not professional ESL teachers into teaching quickly.

It is our hope that as more people get involved, and perhaps more libertarians over here as full-time teachers, we will have more input into the development of liberty-oriented English teaching materials. For example, we badly need a Business English course. There is a tremendous demand here for Business English ? and everywhere I?ve been, nobody is really happy with the available courses.

The idea of a camp for teaching an intensive course was actually suggested by a young Bulgarian girl (now a professor at Cambridge University in England) who had been to a few libertarian-sponsored seminars in Eastern Europe. She remarked to me that a great many of the young participants arrived with inadequate English preparation and were simply sitting through lectures nodding politely, understanding perhaps one word in ten. She suggested that a week-long intensive course before such a seminar would help prepare them to participate more fully in the presentations and discussions.

I suggested this seven years ago at the Rome ISIL conference, and further suggested that it would be quite cheap to hold it somewhere in Eastern Europe where cheap ? if somewhat primitive facilities were available. My friend Virgis Daukas took up the idea with enthusiasm, virtually the only enthusiasm displayed for the idea, not surprising given that you really have to live here to understand exactly how important fluency in English is to personal and professional success all over the world. Virgis has done all of the work organizing the physical side of the camp since the beginning and has been absolutely essential to the success of the whole project.

Other people contributing include: Ken Schoolland who has been involved since first camp. Kevin Bjornson has contributed his business and organizational experience, John Clark his ESL skills, Judith Hatton has been a regular since the second camp, and since the third camp Monika Lukasiewicz (now Browne) has been our drama director. Since last year we have started to attract a bit of funding to sponsor students from Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. The idea has attracted interest from as far away as India and Turkey.

We have previously held the camp on the Baltic coast but this year it was held on Lake Trakai. Many would like to do this again as it gives convenient access to the beautiful capital of Vilnius. There is also discussion about holding more than one camp at various locations around Eastern Europe, perhaps even in Belarus, Romania or Bulgaria. And friends of ours in India involved in a similar project would be very glad to welcome teachers at their camp in the foothills of the Himalayas!

Please keep in touch with us and we?ll keep you informed about our plans as they develop throughout the coming year.

Sincerely
Stephen W Browne

Please contact Stephen directly at swabrow -at- yahoo.com if you’d like more information about supporting, or participating in, this project.