Ken and Julia Vaughan didn’t plan to teach at Dakar Academy (DA) in Senegal, but like many other WorldVenture workers, the war in the Ivory Coast forced them to relocate. After 90 children from Ivory Coast Academy transitioned to DA, the Vaughans were asked by the administration at Dakar Academy to join them and teach. The Vaughans accepted the invitation.
“After the evacuation, many kids went straight from the war to DA,” they said. “The kids didn’t have any counseling or debriefing or anything.”
The Vaughans were able to help these traumatized, stressed students, as they had also experienced the war trauma. When straight-A students started flunking, or children in a dormitory started panicking at the sound of fireworks (thinking they were gunshots), the Vaughans walked through the trauma and grief with them.
“We were able to see them, listen to those kids, and help them find some strategies to help work through some of those things,” they said.
Since 1987, the Vaughans have taught the children of missionaries and other foreign workers. Julia taught art, even gathering her students to paint murals on the walls of remote village churches throughout Senegal. As an outreach, these murals encouraged Muslim villagers to step foot into churches they never would have before, just to see what Julia and her students had created.
Ken taught everything from Bible to science and math. One particular fifth grade class started with 13 students in a tiny classroom, but over the course of the semester grew to 23 students. Ken had to enter the room before the students, and no one could move around. However, the 23rd student was the daughter of a Pakistan ambassador. She loved to read, so Ken gave her “The Chronicles of Narnia,” and eventually, through talks with Ken, she became a Christian.
“I was fine with having 23 kids in that little class if No. 23 became a Christian,” said Ken.
Despite these highlights, the Vaughans faced many challenges, including having potential American supporters not support them because teaching TCKs was not “front line ministry.” It took significant effort to educate people of the importance of TCK education, the Vaughans said.
Many students at DA struggled with perfectionism, which manifested itself in unhealthy ways. The Vaughans would help those students and sometimes point them to professional help.
“As missionary kids, they don’t want to interfere with their parents’ ministry and so they will hide problems that they have for those reasons,” said the Vaughans.
Many Muslim students, the children of various government officials, attended DA because of its excellent reputation, and many of those students came to know Christ. Ken discipled one such student, Amir, who announced his commitment to Christ while the entire school cheered in excitement for him.
“It’s been a joy to be able to take the gifts that God has given us and use it to grow the Kingdom in West Africa,” said the Vaughans.
WorldVenture has previously explored the significance of third culture kid educators, including workers at Dakar Academy, as well as the myths many Christian Americans believe about TCK education.
WorldVenture has also featured many alumni whose years of ministry all over the world have influenced countless people for Christ. Read some of their stories here:
Snapshots from 1960: Life in Brazil: the Palfeniers
“The Lord Gave Us a Good Ride:” the Vances
(Photo credit: Glenn Kendall)