When people asked me “Why Poland?”, I had no clue what to admit, let alone how to respond to my eager students who posed the same serious question. The exciting prospect of snow, the everyday, delicious devouring of soup (Polish food is like no other, I guarantee you), a colourful language I could barely pronounce? There are so many aspects of such a beautiful culture, language, and country such as Poland. But the real answer was that I wanted adventure; a singularly exciting, challenging experience like no other. And that is exactly what happened.
Becoming a volunteer in a foreign country not only provides a glimpse of an entirely different culture, but opens countless doors of possibilities. And Japan, being known as a popular tourist destination for its unique culture and natural beauty, hides countless wonders as well.
So today was my last day and I realise that over the past 5 months’ worth of teaching I have learnt so much. I started out with few responsibilities other than turn up to school and go to the classes I was scheduled to attend. After about a month I was asked to start preparing my own lessons. Here are some things that I really enjoyed, worried about, remember etc about being a teacher (yes I’m putting them in dot points):
This is of me leading a campsong at Camp Elphinstone, it’s called “I’m a Little Teapot” and was a favourite amongst all of the kids who came to camp. One of the most memorable experiences from camp.. I still remember in my first training week when I was still worried and nervous about my new environment with totally new people from all over the world, we were given a short demonstration of the typical camp “campfire” and told that in a weeks time we would all be expected to jump up and give the kids who came to camp that experience. I was very worried, firstly we didn’t know any songs..and I’ve never been too comfortable even speaking in front of a group, let alone singing to a group of over 100 people. How was I going to manage that?
Greater Port Macquarie Focus, June 2015
Volunteering as a teacher at a school in rural Fiji has been a life-changing experience for Shakira Branch, who openly admires the warmth, happiness and community spirit of the Fijian people. Shakira has recently left Port Macquarie to follow her university dream in Melbourne, but plans to continue her volunteer work with youth into the future…
There’s no way to sum up an entire year, let alone one spent on the other side of the world. I suppose I should begin by satisfying the cliches – it’s been brilliant, I’ve changed and grown, I’m going to miss it all. But it’s all a good deal more complicated than that. I’ve found it difficult to fill in the blanks about the emotional side of it all because it’s not something that can be neatly arranged in a box (which is not doing my OCD tendencies any good – I mean, I’m the girl who sharpened a tub of pencils for the nursery class and arranged them in not just rainbow colour order but height and brand order too. And I did that despite fully understanding that when the task was done the pencils were just going to go right back in the tub, all mixed up).