Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Southeast professor leads international English camp in home country

Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Students are seen during a camp in Moldova that Kate Stepaniuc organizes.
Photo submitted by Kate Stepaniuc

How can you live in truth?

Ecaterina Stepaniuc, a professor in the Southeast Department of Mass Media, asks questions like this to students in Moldova who want to learn English.

“The children leave the camp with a different mindset and a different perspective on life,” Stepaniuc said. “One of the things that we invest in a lot during the camp is we want to teach them morals and values and things that will last them throughout life.”

Kate and her husband Ghenadie sit with two young people from camp.
Photo submitted by Kate Stepaniuc

Stepaniuc has been teaching English since she was 15 years old with the English for a New Life Association. She moved to the United States eight years ago, earning her Masters degree and a PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi. For the past five summers, she has been teaching English with her husband Ghenadie Bitco at a camp they organize in Moldova.

Stepaniuc facilitates two camps in Moldova every summer — a day camp and a stationary camp. The day camp lasts 7 days, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., where the children spend three hours a day learning English.

The stationary camp lasts 10 days and includes the children staying the night at a rented facility for the duration of the camp. At the stationary camp, the children spend five hours a day learning English and honing their language skills.

Stepaniuc is so passionate about teaching this skill, she started writing an English manual book with her sister, Valentina Curbet. The manual is called “English With Val and Kate” and is expected to be published in the next two months.

The second-year Southeast professor spoke about the great luck she and her husband have had with facilitating the camp.

“We are just two individuals who are wanting to serve, volunteer for our communities, for our societies and offer back what we received,” Stepaniuc said.

Even though they are not part of a formal organization, their camp continues to grow. This summer, they boarded 115 students at the stationary camp. The students who attend the camps range in age anywhere from seven to 17 years.

Stepaniuc spoke about a young boy named Dima who improved immensely at the camp.

“The first year Dima would cry every day because he missed his mom,” Stepaniuc said. “Now, he tells us that he wants to stay at the camp for a month!”

Because of the values Stepaniuc and the camp leaders wish to install in the children, there is a slight fee to attend the camp.

“When you get something for free, you don't appreciate it,” Stepaniuc said. “We want them to appreciate our effort, to realize that we're investing our lives in their education.”

But those who cannot afford to pay for the camp are not turned away, and Stepaniuc said the fee for can be waived in some cases.

“We want more people to learn from what we’ve created,” Stepaniuc said.

To learn more about the English camp, visit the “English With Val and Kate” Facebook page.

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