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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

Volunteers' Stories

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MARY STOKES
British

Teaching Music to Township Children on a voluntary placement in Knysna, South Africa
         

Life is so different here it really gives you a new perspective on everything. On my first day I was so nervous I didn't know if I would be able to do it, but then I realised that everything was going to seem totally alien and the best thing to do was give it my all... which seems to have worked!!! I have also been taught some Xhosa words by the kids!!! Which was amazing...a sharing of cultures!

I've been taking this little group of grade 5 for recorders and we have been working towards performing in assembly on Monday, which is cool. It is so cool seeing them just learn so quickly - one girl started just 2 weeks ago and she is as good as the rest of them now.. playing along with old macdonald like a pro!!

In my first week my grade 7 class performed a song in assembly, which was awesome, they remembered the actions and the words and looked like they were having a great time up there.

I would definitely recommend this placement to others. It's just amazing to see kids who really want to learn. I love it when the kids come up and ask me what we are going to do today! I think this placement would suit anyone who is willing to just throw themselves in the deep end. The kids are just amazing, with a little patience and a lot of enthusiasm you'll have a ball!

Can you describe a typical day?

 We normally get picked up about 7.30 and get dropped off at school about 15mins later. On Monday we have assembly but apart from that the 1st lesson is dedicated to reading. In this class I have been able to do some Shakespeare and some poetry and next week I plan to do Red Riding hood. Try and get there a little early because the kids have "praise time" before lessons start, with some of the most amazing singing you'll ever hear. I was so surprised the first time I walked into the class and they were there singing in multipart harmony without any teacher input! Wow.

After reading there are 2 lessons and a short break, 2 lessons and lunch and then one lesson... we usually get picked up before the last lesson around 1.30, although Anna and I have been helping with netball this last week so we have been picked up later.

You will have to do some marking - I spent about a week marking poems and I also do some marking in class. I have been lucky as I was able to take some lessons myself. We spent a few lessons making some amazing posters about synonyms and we have been doing some work on poetry.. and of course you might be able to teach them a song or two.. which is so much fun! (though I was truly humbled when I heard some of theirs!).

I've just had a great time, thanks so much for helping me be a part of life here in Knysna. The kids really are great and they are so excited to learn. The memory of them performing "I'm going on a bear hunt" will stay with me forever. Being able to get involved with the Arts center and the soup kitchen was awesome fun as well.

I loved playing with the kids at the soup kitchen - we took some giant bubbles and their screams of laughter when they popped them were so infectious, and my shoes will forever be tinted blue after the finger painting incident!

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