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Volunteers' Stories




Teaching English to Children on a voluntary program in Madurai, India


I'm coming towards the end of my placement in Madurai so thought I would let you know what a fantastic time I've had! The school has been great, the teachers really made me feel welcome. I was always being invited to their houses and even went shopping with them!

Yesterday was my last day and I was sad to go. The teachers bought me a chudidar and bangles to remember them by, and all the kids were giving me ''Happy Journey" cards and asking me to come back one day!

I was teaching ages 8 - 13 and they were great fun. My lessons were quite informal and I tried to choose topics that interested them, they have their own teachers to do the boring stuff with! They loved it when we did a lesson on cinema and I could talk about their favourite Tamil films!

It has been so nice staying in the volunteer house and feeling like this is my home. Sumathy, the cook, is so much fun and I am going to miss her a lot. Last week we were drawing patterns on the doorstep with flour, she's an expert though and I just made a mess! We are always watching Tamil music channels together, so now I know all the songs and I've bought some CD's to take back home!

Living here has made me feel part of the community, we are always recognised especially in the internet place, the phone shop and the bakery!

South India is a beautiful place and we've had some great weekends in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Last weekend we were in Kanyakumari, the southern most point of the country, and went paddling in the sacred meeting point of the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. We were having a lovely time but whilst we were posing for photos I noticed my shoes floating off to sea and had to go chasing after them......

Tomorrow, Robin and I are leaving Madurai and travelling up to Chennai via Pondicherry and Mahabilapuram before our flight home next week. It will be strange to go and know we are never coming back, but I've had an amazing experience here which I will always remember!

A teaching placement is suitable for anyone who is looking for a challenge because although it is very rewarding it is not always easy, also people who are eager to learn about another culture because there is much opportunity for talking to the children and the teachers.

The placement has given me the experience of living in a very different country and helped me become more aware and understanding of other cultures. Teaching conversational English has given me the confidence to work at a challenge and use my initiative to help overcome any difficulties I encounter. It has been a valuable and memorable experience. Thank you!!

Can you describe a typical day?

The car would come to take me to school at half past 8. Every morning there would be an assembly before lessons began at 9.05. There were 8 lessons a day, of which I would be teaching 2/3.

During the mid-morning break (10.25-10.35) a man from the canteen would come round to sell us samosas and chai! The lunch break was half an hour, most teachers would eat in their classrooms with the children and I ate with the few who didn’t have their own classes. We all shared our food with each other!

The day would finish at 3.15 unless there was a special function for the teachers after school, such as my leaving gathering on the last day!

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