by Caz Openshaw
I’d say I have quite a bit of volunteering experience, having lived in a centre for street children in Malawi for seven months, and then three months in India doing community projects in Tamil Nadu. Yet I have never been able to master the art of standing in front of a classroom full of children, with different age ranges, levels of English and practically no resources (never mind some of the children had never even been in a classroom before!) Most of the time I’d feel quite useless, never really quite telling if I’d actually taught anything well or if they understood what I was saying.
Even after previous training with both organisations I went with, it still couldn’t help me once my nerves kicked in or when I was actually face to face with a group. Last summer, while in India, I’d actually gone out and bought the only white board I could find, just to help have some sort of visuals while teaching. It was too big, rolled up every few minutes and I had nothing to connect the actual white board to the wall. The books in the classroom were too advanced and even we English volunteers couldn’t understand them. And even though this was my second try at volunteering, I just didn’t understand how other volunteers worked around it. Well, this wasn’t actually the case. I found that every other volunteer I talked to had the same problem. They too found it overwhelming and just found it so hard to really make a difference, when we couldn’t even communicate with the people we were teaching because of language barriers – we’re not superheroes and each project and place has their own challenges.
So I started brainstorming, sketching ideas and speaking to my parents on the phone as they did research over the internet back at home.
Then… we came up with TripKits.
Lightweight packs, they provide basic resources to support the volunteer while they’re face to face with the class. They have flashcards, counters, dice, an activity book with lots of ideas and games, and most importantly, a white board!
So now we’re set, we just need to let volunteers and travellers alike know about our packs so that not only the person teaching can have the support they need, but in turn they are supporting the people they are teaching.
We’re making teachers out of travellers…
More about TripKits: