My school is called Vidya Vanam Primary School and it is situated in the rural village of Annaikatty, about an hour away from the town of Coimbatore, in Tamil Nadu. We are also right on the border with Kerala so are only a short walk away from the beautiful backwaters and greenery of that region. Annaikatty is surrounded by large mountains which are full of different tribal families and it is their kids who will troop down to our school each morning and will get the joy of being taught by me! Hopefully we’ll be able to visit the tribes and maybe even witness some sort of excitingly dramatic tribal activity! The headteacher is called Premaji Madam and we will work and live alongside her and other staff on the basic campus. As well as having different teaching blocks the school has a big hall with a small kitchen attached and there is also various rooms/houses for teachers who choose to live on site. Caitlin and I will share a small and basic room and possibly our own toilet!
My partner for the year (Caitlin) and I!
As our project is one of PT’s new ones, we are not entirely sure about the work we will be doing. Vidya Vanam has a technique similar to that of Montessori so any extra curricular activities and clubs we want to run are fully encouraged! Caitlin and I can’t wait to bring out the feathers and glitter for craft club, or start a craze of ultimate frisbee. If anyone else has any ideas about what sort of clubs to run please let me know! Of course, our main job will be teaching English in the classroom and thanks to PT we have a MASSIVE file with loads of example lessons, ideas and games to play with the kids. We will probably be teaching the older ones (about 10-13 yrs) but I’m going to try and do more with the wee ones as well as they are always so sweet. Saying that they will probably be more of a challenge!
I can’t wait to get out there and get teaching. Everyone says it comes naturally after a while, but the prospect of me standing up in front of a classroom full of 10yr olds is slightly nerve wracking! Before the schools broke up for summer I managed to squish in a few days of work experience in different places and one of the teachers told me to always be yourself and not try to be a stereotypical teacher. Hopefully I’ll be able to take this advice on board as well as all the other help so many people have offered me and be the best teacher I can be!
Thirty days until I leave Scotland!
I officially leave Heathrow Airport, flying to Abu Dhabi and then on to Hyderabad on the 11th September, however as my flight is early in the morning I will be leaving Scotland the day before.
I spent last week revisiting the beautiful Isle of Coll (where I went to be selected for PT) on a 5 day training course with the volunteers going to India, Chile and Japan. Somehow all the Project volunteers congregated in Oban and we all got the early morning ferry together, enjoying a good old CalMac bacon roll on the way. This reminded me of getting the ferry to Coll with my family when I was younger and seeing all the PT volunteers excited about their gap year adventures. The excitement of meeting my partner was pretty indescribable. I was going to be spending a year sharing a room and working alongside this random girl from Newcastle who I didn’t even know existed before then! Luckily my partner was lovely and we get on really well, I’m confident that we’ll have a great year together (as long as she can put up with me for that long!).
Training consisted of numerous classes, lectures, sessions, chats etc etc basically trying to prepare us as best as possible for our year overseas. However, cramming all the knowledge and experience of PT into 5 stressful days is completely overwhelming! We were bombarded with info from Day 1 and I felt like the whole week was me playing catch up and scrambling to write down enough notes. Although, in classic PT style by the end of the week we were all entirely enamored by the charity, the island and all the people we met. We had finished planning and performing mock lessons to a bunch of British teenagers pretending to be Indian primary school kids, we had survived the gruesome health talks describing the different types of creepy crawlies and how they liked to get up close and personal and most of we all we trusted the staff and the charity that we were part of. We were ready to leave the UK and hit up another part of the world.
So as my title suggests, the countdown really does begin, when I get home from visiting family in Ireland it will only be three weeks until I leave. I’ve made a million and one lists (classic nuala) about the multitude of different things I need to buy/pack-the key one being my rucksack to bring it all in! And I still need to see my lovely, kind and supportive friends and have tearful goodbyes with each and every one of them. Also it would be a good idea if I learnt to say a few more things in Tamil (the language they speak in my region) and finish the massive tidy up of my room!
Next time: more info on my specific project.
The Training Course-Japan, Chile and India Volunteers!