Tabgha Cafe is an initiative of Dr. Robin Ruggles, recently retired from a career in international development where he served as a senior education advisor with postings in Asia, Africa and Latin America. His travels have taken him to 100 countries. His favourite place? Tabgha by the Sea of Galilee.
He has a Ph.D. in Education and a Certificate in Planning eLearning Programs. He also has graduate certificates in Teaching English as a Second Language, Advanced Grammar for English Teachers, and Teaching English for Specific Occupations (tourism and hospitality).
Dr. Ruggles alternates his time between Ottawa, New York, and Medellin, Colombia.
A Message from the Founder
We are pleased to make these learning resources available to you free of charge.
Hopefully you can, in a small way, make use of your improved communication skills in English to benefit others.
This website has had a long and winding development. Its genesis had its roots in a life-transforming event that I went through in Manila, Philippines some thirty years ago. At that time, I had been a non-believer for most of my life and was a Christian in name only.
One night, alone in a hotel room near Manila Bay, I had an overwhelming fear that I was going to die from a heart attack (my father had already passed away at a young age and my brother had suffered two strokes). I became convinced I would never see my wife again nor see my very young children grow up. During that desperate moment, I experienced a type of near-death experience leading to an inner calm with a personal realization of a divine presence.
It was that experience in Manila that led me to learn more about those who have had personal encounters with Jesus or Mary. I started reading about pilgrimage sites and was curious about their appearance. But at that time there were no illustrated books that included all the apparition shrines approved by local bishops.
I felt an inner force directing me to write one that would be extensively illustrated. My wife Belen and I travelled throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia in order to do the research and take the photographs.
That led to my writing my first book– Apparition Shrines: Places of Pilgrimage and Prayer published in 2000 by Pauline Press in Boston and now out-of-print. An updated eBook version entitled Lifting the Divine Veil will soon be released.
(Apparition Shrines: Top Row, left to right: La Salette, France; La Salette, France; Akita, Japan; Knock Ireland. Middle Row: Fatima, Portugal; Banneaux, Belgium; Betania, Venezuela; Paray-le-Monial, France.
Bottom Row: Guadalupe, Mexico; Rue du Bac, Paris; Lourdes, France; El Zeitoun, Egypt)
I soon embarked on a long career in international development. While I obtained a great deal of professional and personal satisfaction from playing a small part in helping other countries improve their educational systems, I felt I was being called to do more.
Throughout my career, I had the good fortune of studying several foreign languages—French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Mandarin.
I was always amazed at the lack of integrated cultural content in the courses I took. To me, one of the joys of studying another language is to learn something about the culture(s) where it is spoken. But the courses I took had quite boring learning materials—all text based with no use of images despite the fact that 65% of us learn visually.
The courses I took left me wanting more. I wanted to learn about and see pictures of the Sacré Coeur Basilica in Paris and the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy; the Statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro; the stunning architecture of the cathedral in Brasilia; and the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican.
About ten years ago, my family and I were on a government posting in Dhaka, Bangladesh. One evening, I awoke in the middle of the night with the outline for creating a new type of website to learn English online crystalized in my mind. This one would be different than most ESL sites. It would be developed on the principle that learning a language is intertwined with learning about the culture where it is spoken.
Thus the idea for the Tabgha Cafe was born. It was to be an online resource and forum for learning English that could accompany traditional face-to-face instruction. Its distinguishing features would be its integrated cultural content from six English speaking countries (the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand) and its faith-based component provided through the story of Jesus as viewed through Christian art and scriptural passages where one could see how the eight parts of speech in the English language are utilized.
Having the vision for the Tabgha Cafe was one thing. Knowing how to implement it was something else. I could not even write a single line of computer code.
Upon retirement, I went back to university and took a variety of certificate programs in both teaching English as a Second Language and in planning eLearning programs.
By accessing some superb photos available from Wikimedia Commons as copyright-free in the public domain and employing user-friendly web content management systems such as WordPress, I was able to make the long-standing dream from Dhaka into a reality.
I would like to thank all those who have helped make this site possible. I am especially indebted to my wife Belen who has been a bedrock of support since the inception, my son Michael who has provided invaluable technical advice over the years, and my daughter and her husband who have kindly made us feel that New York is our second home.
For more details, please contact: email@example.com