I loved the experience and got everything I'd hoped to out of it and more. It was fantastic to meet Kate at the One Life exhibition . To be honest I had planned to go with a different company and went to Olympia to talk with them but after meeting Kate I knew I wanted to go with people and places. The conversation we had was very different to the ones held at lots of other stalls and I felt people and places had the interests of the communities they served and the volunteers at heart. I also felt there was a personal connnection and understanding of all the projects.
It was great to be able to email my many questions and get such a quick response. It was also nice to be able to talk on the phone with Kate and sort things out directly. I made use of the email addresses if previous volunteers that I was sent and they were all kind enough to email back with some really useful advice.
I found the people and places local partners equally helpful before the visit and again it was great to have that personal touch. From the moment I arrived in SA I was amazed at the trouble Marnie and Jeremy went to and the hospitality they showed us. They went to huge efforts to make sure everybody got what they wanted and enjoyed the projects.
Working at the pre-school was fascinating. It was great being able to draw parrallels with British schools and I have already done two assemblies since getting back, complete with powerpoint photos! about Mapoch and the pre-school. I really enjoyed working with Sibongile and hope I was able to offer one or two helpful ideas for creativity within the classroom. It was great that the mornings were quite structured as the afternoons were pretty free range. The afternoons were more challenging at first because, as a UK teacher, I used to everythign being very organised and structured. I never knew when children would turn up and more and more would appear once I'd started an activity. Ages could range from two to fourteen and some children could be demanding so it took a fair bit of behaviour managment. However once I got over the fact that OFSTED weren't leaning over my shoulder examining my learning objectives I enjoyed the freedom of the afternoons and the art and not being contstrained with what we did. If things all got a bit much I would get the frisbees out! I did some homework support and that was interesting and really rewarding.