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"There is no doubt that on my return to the UK after my 3 months in Sri Lanka, I found
getting to grips with my PGCE and teaching in the UK that much easier.

Rob Hampson

After spending 3 months as a teaching assistant in my local village school after graduating University, I decided that I really had an interest in the teaching field. I looked into how to become qualified as a primary teacher here in the UK. However, I wanted to experience something different before I set out on that path and further study for the required PGCE I needed to acquire.

So…I looked into doing some teaching abroad in my 6 months off before my course started! I was initially interested in Africa as I had heard the children were so lovely and friendly there. After looking into the temperature in places like Ghana however I plumped for Sri Lanka, a place I knew relatively little about. It just felt right. The more I read the more I wanted to get there the very next day…the elephants, the exotic culture, friendly people…but still only pictures in books and words on websites!

I called Travellers Worldwide and before I knew it I was all booked in to arrive in the May of 2004. I couldn’t wait, and the closer it got the more right it all seemed. When I arrived, I couldn’t believe the heat…not bad heat but a relaxing humidity that instantly made me feel at home. I had arrived in Sri Lanka! I was exhausted and needed a shower, but I felt so alive!

The first week I got to know all the other volunteers and forged friendships that even 4 years on mean so much. We all still meet up regularly when we can back in the UK. There’s about 12 of us too, not just a few! We all felt like no one else ever experienced the fantastic magic of this beautiful island like we did… but of course, everyone feels it!

The teaching was a good mixture of ages and classes in the local government schools. The time went so quickly in the mornings, that before you knew it we were all back at our house eating curry, rice, noodles and heaps of wonderful fruit.

In the schools, this was the first time I had actually been in front of the class taking the lead. It was daunting but it soon became second nature. I learnt valuable lessons of keeping the children’s’ focus, putting together the material for a lesson, and basically how to be a teacher. To do all this whilst looking out over red dusty roads with the odd cow mooching by and tuk-tuks darting past in the background made the experience all the more surreal yet unforgettable.

There is no doubt that on my return to the UK after my 3 months in Sri Lanka, I found getting to grips with my PGCE and teaching in the UK that much easier. I also had such a wonderful resource of knowledge to delve into with my Sri Lanka experience.

The whole trip shaped my life tremendously and it allowed me to see people, and the world, in a whole new light. Totally unforgettable!

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