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Volunteers' Stories




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

What experience do you feel you are gaining? Regarding the teaching placement alone, I am beginning to develop my skills in the classroom. For example, keeping the children's attention throughout the lesson is becoming a less frantic task as my placement progresses, as is the planning of lessons; this is due to my increasing teaching skills but also because of the close relationship I am building with many of the students. I am also becoming more aware of how the skills they are gaining at school will eventually determine their futures, inspiring me to make the most of my time in the school.

What is the best thing about your placement so far? Number one: the other volunteers, who, over just two weeks, I have bonded with greatly; it was very sad to see the first two, Jack and Tim, leave this weekend. Close second: the school-children and their constant enthusiasm, (despite their rowdiness in certain lessons!) The weekends are definitely up there with the first two, the world's highest bungee jump certainly hitting the top spot in that aspect of my placement.

Would you recommend this placement to anyone else? I would recommend this placement without hesitation.

What type of person do you think this placement would suit? I think the placement is quite versatile, you choose what you want to do at the weekend and on evenings (and there is never a shortage of things to be doing at the weekend!) so anybody who is willing to get on with other volunteers (a massive, and possibly underestimated part of the placement, or at least, it was for me before I arrived) Obviously, somebody with a willingness to teach the basics of subjects and with enough enthusiasm to last the day with excitable children!

What, if any, improvements could be made to the placement? Erm...... how about a giant Jacuzzi/Swimming Pool for the house? Oh and champagne delivery on a weekend wouldn't be too bad either....

Was there anything that you weren’t told before your departure that you think future volunteers should know? Not at all, you quickly adjust to the requirements of the placement.

Can you describe a typical day? (e.g Start time, morning duties, lunch hours, afternoon duties, any other duties…. ) After a shower, and packing my bag with a big bottle of water and sandwiches (prepared the night before) Tom the driver picks us up at 7:30am everyday (except Tuesdays which is 7:20) and we are driven our school. Then comes the assembly (on a Monday) and reading time every other day. 15 minutes for break and 30 minutes for lunch. The rest of the day is either filled with teaching the children or helping with administrative work during some frees. The day finishes at 2:00pm and we are taken back to the house by Sharon, picking the other volunteers up along the way (I'm at Tembelitsha Primary School) The rest of the day is filled with whatever suits you and the other volunteers. Beach on a sunny day, town, internet. We've managed to watch two seasons of 'Lost' on DVD (highly recommended for filling weeknights cheaply).

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Aerial View of Knysna