During the summer holidays, my friend and I went out to Sri Lanka for a period of 3 weeks, where we taught English to the children affected by the 2004 Tsunami. Placed in a Tsunami school, I expected it to be rewarding and emotional but I never quite prepared myself enough! Looking back now, it was definitely the most amazing experience of my life so far (and I’m sure it will be for a very long time!). The school was in an area of extreme deprivation (and in the teacher’s house!) and catered for children aged 3-17. As the area was so deprived, I had to take all of my own essentials and this meant a lack of resources were available. Therefore, I had to make them all myself and it would often just be paper to make scratch cards. The children were so happy and eager to learn, so it was definitely worth sitting up at night making resources by hand. As the ages varied, some of the children had different levels of English than others – some were fluent and some were not. Therefore, differentiation was key to ensure that they were getting the best possible learning experience. I learnt so much about how different children learn within different cultures. Their school day differs so much!! I had also never had experience teaching such a high level of EAL so I thought you couldn’t get better than actually visiting another country and teaching English as a foreign language! I had to ensure that every lesson was planned for appropriately (by hand might I add!) so that teaching was quality for the children. I only taught for two and a half hours per day so we really had to try and cram as much in as possible. Nevertheless, there always had to be time for fun as we would set aside half an hour every day to play ball games or sing.
I would definitely recommend anybody to go and volunteer in a foreign country. You learn so much about yourself and others! I want to continue volunteering abroad, and I am currently looking into my next trip….. Africa?!
Here are some pictures (I was granted permission to use images of the children)