Who is Ameth Ba?
Ameth Ba is a man whose memory does and will continue to live strong in my mind and heart.
I first met him when he was an adult learner registered in another teacher's class at the adult learning center where I was teaching.
We met because we both loved coffee! Several times we were at the coffee shop (located walking distance, kitty-corner from the center) at the same time and would end up walking to and fro together.
Soon thereafter, I subbed (substitute taught) for his class. Later, he enrolled in several progressively advanced classes, and eventually he ended up enrolling in one of the classes I was teaching.
His life story (shared through a class writing project) was one that is hard to forget.
I will not re-share his full story here, but suffice it to say that he was a survivor.
I will share that Ameth was tall, thin, with very dark skin. He had a wonderful hearty laugh, and a wonderful way of putting people at ease. He could be a very snazzy dresser, and he often lamented that he did not have a paunch worthy of supporting/needing suspenders (he loved suspenders!).
He was a huge fan of John Wayne, a wannabe cowboy; he loved horses.
He loved his music! [Senegal Music info]
When I hear the word dignity, I think of Ameth.
His life was full of hardship, he endured too many difficult and unfair situations / circumstances during his life.
But always, ALWAYS, he would find a positive outlook to strive toward, would try to look for a way forward, would find a way forward.
He had dreams, and one of his biggest dreams was to return to his beloved country, Senegal, and help more Senegalese learn English as a means to improving their lives, as a means toward learning ways to improve Senegal.
Ameth and I had a dream project together, and spent many hours scheming ABA Virtual Learning Center (an idea similar in many ways to LEWWP, but especially targeting Senegalese learners) and seeking funding for our project.
Some of you who were members of EnglishCafe may even have enjoyed chatting a bit with Ameth during Skype classes he sometimes joined.
We came so close... but never did bring our dream to reality.
We'd hoped to have online classes for Senegalese learners, and eventually a physical education center in Dakar, bridge programs with community colleges here in the States, and eventually an established set of courses to help Senegalese learners from about age 14 and up progress through conversational English to exam prep and academic English to learning about living in the USA to studying abroad -- and had hoped that there would be semi-annual visits to Senegal (I had hoped to travel to Senegal with Ameth, to establish the first branch of ABA Academy there, and then to visit and teach there frequently, too).
Sadly, Ameth died last year, quickly but painfully, from lung cancer.
I miss him.
I miss the dream.
I miss the dream-scheming (the planning, the steps toward making the dream become a reality).
I miss his cooking (he could fix up a very tasty chicken yassa and aromatic, flavorful mafe stew.
I miss Ameth Ba.
I am grateful that my husband and I and several of our friends have memories of some of his happier moments.
He taught me (he taught anyone would listen) a lot about Senegal.
Did you know that Senegal has a pink lake?
...and miles of beaches perfect for running upon?
...and a tradition, strongly rooted, of always eating Friday meals with your mother?
...and so many more stories -- as well as references to more well-known historical places such as Goree Island (a place I hope this world never sees the likes of again).
Ameth Ba inspired me, still inspires me.
He would have been a proud member of LEWWP.
I hope that one day more Senegalese learners will discover our site and honor Ameth Ba's memory by improving their English and studying in the USA.
[A few months ago I wrote this 'Gratitude' post and listed Ameth among those I'm grateful for, and pledged to write and share this tribute post one day.]