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Volunteers' Stories




Teaching Children in Schools on a voluntary program in Malaysia


From the moment you step onto the plane with a complete stranger, you feel completely independent from everything you used to be dependant on. It is a massive boost for your self confidence. When I got here I didn’t want to walk around town by myself because I got so many funny looks (which I now know were friendly looks!). Now I can quite happily hop on a bus to KK (or anywhere in Sabah) by myself and spend the weekend doing whatever I want wherever I want!

Out here I live for the kids. I wake up in the morning because I know the kids want me to teach them and I go to bed happy because I know I will be teaching the next day. They are an absolute joy to be around! Some have hardly any grasp of English at all but its still brilliant just to sit with them and communicate in different ways.

They are all so friendly, in the first few days I received around 50 notes ranging from a blob of ink on a piece of paper to a very well written letter in English, they are all as nice because you can tell that they have put a lot of effort into them.

I teach in the primary school so there is not very much planning or organising around lessons but it has made me more self controlled, you have to think about everything you say or do before you say it, so as not to offend anyone or make them uncomfortable. The afternoon lessons require planning and organising because they are for secondary students. You have to create the syllabus, but it’s not so hard.

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else?

Yes, everyone who loves kids! I would recommend this placement to anyone who has the patience to communicate with all types of children.

Can you describe a typical day?

I usually wake up between 6:30 and 7:00am. I have a wash outside from a big water tank then go over to the volunteer accommodation for breakfast (which is cooked by the principal’s wife, Rosaline, who is lovely).

Lessons start at 7:20am, but depending on your timetable you may not have to be in school until later. If you are in school at 7:20 you usually sing a few songs with the teachers in the staff room (I just listen because my voice would cause some serious damage to the structure of the school) then it’s off to my first lesson!

I teach all my lessons independently. Most of my lessons are math’s and science (which is good really because I'm not too good at English myself!) break is at 9:50 till 10:20 then there are more lessons until 12:50pm. I usually teach between 2 -3 hrs a day. I have lunch at around 1:30pm and then have the rest of the day free. Although you can organise things - I teach the dorm students on Monday and Wednesday afternoons and do a private lesson for some Chinese kids from up the road.

It’s easy to get a mini bus into Kota Marudu at any time where you can go on the internet, shop etc..... Some evenings the teachers play badminton and I usually go along (they are all very good, I recommend that you bring your own racket if you have one) there is also usually football going on all the time as well! (I tried to wean them on to rugby but it didn’t work). I usually go to bed between 9pm and 11pm..

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