Saturday, 26 November 2011

#2 30b430 - Teach some English

When I was putting together my #30b430 list, one of the things which was really easy to add to it was some voluntary work. In the past some of the best experiences I have had on my travels have been working on projects alongside local people and other volunteers, so I knew it was definitely something I wanted to do again. I also like to feel as though I am doing something, however small, to help people in the country I am visiting. Travelling has thousands of benefits but a big one for me is that is really makes me appreciate life at home. While the UK is by no means perfect, I like living in a country where healthcare and education (minus the soon-to-become-a-reality extortionate university fees) are free. It´s heartbreaking to see old people here who are forced to beg on the streets and mothers who can´t afford to feed their children.
After making the decision to slow things down and stay around in Arequipa for a while I came across Traveller Not Tourist, an organisation which runs two projects in the city: an orphanage and an after-school programme where volunteers teach English and play with the children. I signed up to do two weeks at the school and was asked to take on the adults class.
At first I was a little disappointed as I´d had images of being surrounded by lots of cute kids in a Mary Poppins-esque manner (I even had the songs ready and everything). But then I remembered that the whole point in voluntary work is to go where you are needed, so I agreed to run the class. In hindsight this was definitely the best option. I really enjoyed my time with the adults, who were aged 17 to 22, and feel like they were probably able to benefit more from the short time I was able to spend at the school.
The Traveller Not Tourist School is located in the community of Flora Tristan, an under-resourced area on the outskirts of the city.  As most of my students worked or studied at university there were only a couple of regulars who came every day, while others just turned up every now and again, which could make lesson planning quite difficult. However there were usually a few of extra guests in the classes, including babies, dogs and even a monkey!


Some of my additional students.





My two weeks at the school flew by and I enjoyed planning lessons for the group and thinking up new games. It was also definitely a challenge for my Spanish as I tried to explain new rules and vocab.

Another brilliant lesson plan...

By the time I left I was fairly confident that my intermediate student had a good grasp of the past tense and that my beginners had been successfully introduced to the language. It would have been great to have been able to stay longer but unfortunately Machu Picchu was calling me.
Volunteering enabled me to meet some fantastic people, many of whom were really committed to the projects and had given months - and in one case more than a year - to ensure its success. As well as the day-to-day running of the school I also saw how hard the volunteers worked to ensure other projects could take place. They included three children receiving scholarships from the organisation to study at a private school, a fundraising football match and a meeting for parents about health and hygiene.


Some of the niños who attend the school.




Another highlight of my time in Arequipa was living with the other volunteers in a shared house. While on one hand this was like stepping back in time to my student days (think dirty dishes on the sink etc.), it was also incredibly fun. We had lots of great moments in the house - many of which revolved around food - and also explored the city (mainly it´s restaurants). As many of you have already heard I was also introduced to The World´s Best Lemon Meringue Pie. Does anyone see a food theme here?    

One of the downsides of communal living...

...but there are many, many, more good times.

(Including discovering The World`s Best Lemon Meringue Pie!)
All in all it was a fantastic experience and although I´ll be ticking it off my list I really hope I´ll get the chance to do some more voluntary work before my trip is over.
For more information about Traveller Not Tourist visit http://travellernottourist.com/

4 comments:

  1. Erm, great blog Em but as one of those who lived with you during you student days I would like to dispute the "dirty dishes in the sink" claim. As I'm sure you recall, I was kind enough to keep them in my bedroom ;).

    Miss you loads. Glad you are having an amazing time! x x

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  2. Haha Kash, I`d forgotten about the glasses in the bedroom!
    Miss you too xx

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  3. Oh yeah...another addition to your list...I think you should go swimming with Sharks please.

    x x

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