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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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LUCY WALKER
British

Teaching Drama to Underprivileged Children on a voluntary placement in Knysna, South Africa
         

Things have been so wonderfully busy in South Africa, with trips climbing up Table Mountain and experiencing the nightlife of Cape Town, whale-watching in Hermanus, open-water diving....and of course setting up the drama project. It's quite magical to be here. Knysna is better than imagined....the volunteers are all very lovely, friendly, fun-loving and understanding friends now.
Jim [Travellers SA Assistant Manager] has been the best host we could have wanted...along with Bill [Travellers SA Manager] and Val [his wife], of course....but Jim sorts out all our problems...however small or large. And he entertains us grandly, going out of his way to make sure we're having a fantastic African experience.

The teachers are very supportive of all Vicky and I are doing...and we've shared many a giggle with each other in the staff room and beyond. Trying to pick up Xhosa...my teacher is Jane, the cleaner, who is incredibly patient with my slow language-learning skills. So, in answer to your questions:

(a) I like, actually love, everything....it's more luxurious than life back home; and
(b) [What can we improve on your project?] The only thing to improve is my Xhosa!Just to fill you in on a wee snippet of school life... the teachers (who seemed very distant towards our ideas at first) have been slowly approaching us to do workshops in their lessons. Word has spread after the first few we took.

On Tuesday I was teaching a class about floods, earthquakes and volcanoes and yesterday I held a workshop on Maths....yes maths!! I had the children pairing into different numbers, shapes and they loved it. We then had a decimal point quiz involving conversions from fractions and percentages. There were other games fitted in as well and by the end of the 3rd period there was enough time for the children to perform some traditional songs and dances...magic. There seems to be a huge interest from the kids about the drama club after school which Vicky and I will be holding on Wednesdays....we may have to split up different ages and hold a few more workshops each week. Its so lovely to be with such enthusiastic young people...they've never had a drama lesson in their life, but they're natural born performers all of them.

Yesterday in the maths lesson there was one little girl...absolutely tiny would looked so scared (excuse the phrase 'runt of the litter' but it's just to give you a picture). Well she seemed to be mocked by some of the other children (predominantly boys) and I couldn't help but feel protective of her. When it came to the kids putting on their own individual performances, she stood up, a few of the boys sniggered and she was muttering to herself in a consoling way. There she stood, this tiny figure in the middle of the classroom with total fear in her eyes. She opened her mouth and the most beautiful little voice came out. After a while some the other girls joined in and harmonised from the sidelines. It was the bravest performance I've ever seen and got the loudest applause. At the end of the lesson I approached her. She looked as though she thought that I was going to swallow her up...and I said "you've got the most wonderful voice. Thank you for singing to us." She gave me a huge smile.

I've taken pictures of all the teachers....they are NOT camera shy...they love a digital camera. And with the photos I've made a smart collage of them with names underneath and will be displaying it on the reception wall. It helps me learns their names too. We have such a giggle with them and the head master is very supportive of all we want to do. The kids love playing at break time. I seem to be the only one of the volunteers who lets rip with them at playtime.
We've played at funny walks, animals and even had a huge human train going around the playground at one point!!

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