By Marie Roberts / Special to The Star
The Meridian Star
Twenty-four year old Preston Herrington has spent more than half of his life outside the United States. The Cuba, Ala. native serves as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher and missionary in third world countries around the world. Recently returning from a six month journey through Bangladesh, Herrington is settling back into the different pace of life here in the states.
“Life over here is all about constantly being connected," Herrington said. "Over there, it’s about your next meal and figuring out if all of the kids can go to school on the same day due to the workload.”
Herrington first got his start after a stint in college as international studies major, where he realized that sitting in classroom just wasn’t his style: “I felt like I could learn so much more by just going and being there.”
Now, three years later and more than 15 unique stamps on his passport later, Herrington says he’s found his calling.
“I just want to help others and make sure they get the opportunity to go to school and learn, just like I did," he said.
Working closely with a nonprofit organization called the Shubornogram Foundation, Herrington spends approximately 30 hours a week teaching the English language to children. He also serves as an advocate for international education funding.
“The foundation is hoping to provide enough funding to build classroom and extensions, as well as invest in teacher training so that Bangladeshis can education their future generations,” Herrington said.
Current schools are just one room, built of corrugated iron, and are run by a single teacher who instructs children aged 6-14 all at once.
“Growing up in Alabama, I was able to go to school all day, every day, and that gave me the footing to be successful in life,” shared Herrington. “I’m able to do more and offer more to the world as an education person. I just want others to have that same opportunity.”
As for his missionary work, he says it is not about pushing people to be a certain denomination. His focus is teaching others about how to live each day trying to be a better person than one they were yesterday.
“You do not have to get caught up in the particulars," Herrington said. "Give people hope for the future and let them know God loves them more than they could ever know.”
Herrington departs for Bogla, Bangladesh in just six short weeks. This town is one of the oldest is northern Bangladesh, and is located in the Rajshahi Division. With more than 350,000 residents, Herrington sees this as an opportunity to make an impact on many: “I’m going in with the game plan of helping as many people as I can, in any way that I can, for as long as I can.”