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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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Lindsay Wilkinson, voluntary work in Teaching           

LINDSAY WILKINSON
British

Teaching Children in Schools on a voluntary program in Malaysia

         

Everything's going fantastically on our placement. We're all getting on fine in the house, and the house is great. Monica, our cook and mum, is a star, she's so helpful about everything and is always arranging trips for us to go on and taking us to the shops when we need to and everything like that. The other teachers at the school are really friendly and are trying almost too hard to arrange things for us to do - karaoke nights and eating out (we've even had sweet-corn flavoured ice cream!).

The school is really keen for us to get involved with everything. I have 11 lessons a week. Six of them are with the sixth formers, and I’m teaching them English writing and speaking. It can be very difficult as there's such a range of abilities in the classes. We're totally in charge of each class we teach rather than being assistants to the teachers, but its going okay so far, as long as they aren’t expecting too much from us about the results the kids get at the end of our placement!

My other five lessons are teaching maths to form one, about 30 kids. This is usually okay, although sometimes the mental arithmetic catches me out and I just get the kids to do the questions on the board that I can’t do myself!

Out of the classroom, I’m involved in teaching English to the English teachers twice a week, and in return they have started to teach me Malay. Next week I’m also taking lessons for some of the day students, I think they are all my sixth formers wanting extra help.

Me and Lily are also involved in the church choir and teaching one group of students and one group of teachers how to sing, we play badminton when its not too hot, and I think we're starting to play rounders with anyone who's up for it next week!

At the weekends we've been coming to KK and the nearby islands with the other volunteers, been out with Albert (Travellers Manager) and to Poring Hot Springs. I’m currently in KK to get my visa extended (I was only given a short one because I came in from Thailand) and I think we're going hang-gliding and horse riding this weekend.

I'd definitely recommend this placement to other people, although I think you have to have a certain character to survive! The communication between here and home has been pretty easy so long as you don’t expect to get in touch with people on a regular basis! The internet has a habit of switching itself off, power cuts kill the line anyway, and the phone line's been down a few times. I bought a sim card out here very cheaply, but my phone doesn’t have much reception in the school.

I think you've also got to be pretty easy going to cope with the lifestyle out here, plans tend to be made very loosely, for sometime in the future and then something might be sprung on you the day before hand, and it can be hard to explain if you already have made other plans.

Finally, I think you have to be pretty hard to embarrass - we've been made to dance in front of the whole school, sing at weddings and give speeches - I think we're getting used to feeling pretty stupid in whatever we do!

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