George

Volunteer Blog: My Year Abroad with SKIP

Hello! I’m George and I volunteered with SKIP for my Year Abroad as part of my languages degree at the University of East Anglia so I was fortunate enough to spend a whole nine months as a SKIP Primary Teacher.

Being only 20 years old when I arrived and with limited Spanish at the time I was a little daunted at the prospect of being responsible for a class of fifteen children teaching literacy and maths but upon arrival I received great training from the Coordinators and advice from other Primary Teacher volunteers and I settled into the position amazingly quickly. The children are all amazingly welcoming too and they want to know everything there is to know about you on your first day so the ice is broken really quickly. It’s great to be surrounded by such enthusiasm from both the children as well as the other volunteers and there are so many fun characters about that no one day is ever the same. I started off as an assistant in one class and by the end of my time with SKIP I was the Primary Teacher for two different classes which just goes to show how easy it is to learn and also see personal progression.FIN_8759

The curriculum written by SKIP is so easy to follow and addresses not only literacy and maths but other important subjects such as community values and personal development. It is also really open so you can incorporate some of your own ideas too and really get creative. All the activities are interactive and encourage the children to share thoughts, beliefs, experiences and work as a team which is such a refreshing change from their normal school day. Primary also holds regular meetings so volunteers can share teaching ideas and suggest activities that have worked well with their own classes. Loads of the public holidays and important calendar dates are part of Primary Teaching at SKIP and it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn about Peruvian culture and values making posters and wall displays to share our work with the whole SKIP community.

Mothers DayPrimary Teaching isn’t just about being in the classroom everyday as there are so many opportunities to be outside, go out on day trips (I was lucky enough to take my classes to the beach and a world-touring circus during my time) as well as the end of term celebrations where classes, small groups, pairs or individuals can present their achievements and show off their crazy amazing talents, whether that be singing, drama, poetry or dance. A number of the children are nominated to receive individual recognition for their efforts and achievements and being a Primary Teacher I was full of pride to see my students go up and receive their certificates in front of their SKIP classmates as well as parents.

It’s not until I’ve come to write all this down that I realise how difficult it is to really put into words what it means to be a part of SKIP as a Primary Teacher. It’s a school and a community like no other but most of all it’s all about positivity and FUN. With all the happy memories, smiles and laughter and friends I made whilst volunteering in SKIP I am definitely assured that it was the best way have spent my Year Abroad. I just wish it didn’t fly by so quickly!

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August Newsletter

Read all our lates updates in the August Newsletter – See the our latest project develop as we build two new classrooms and find out about what our volunteers really think about their international volunteering experience with SKIP….

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The Vanity and Villainy of Volunteer Tourism

One of our fantastic volunteers, Hatty Farnham, had a thought provoking article published this week reflecting on her experiences volunteering in Peru with SKIP. There is an excerpt from the article below or you can read the full article on the Abstract Magazine website

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“…Before we are able to change the lives of others we must change our own. There is an ugly double standard in the colonial arrogance which allows willing yet unexperienced western volunteers to believe that they may teach children, work in medical clinics, or “change a life” simply by offering their time. Would we allow untrained medical students to operate on our grandparents in the UK? Would we be comfortable with adults entering a nursery or school without training or background checks at home? Or with groups of tourists photographing orphans in a care home in London? It’s so easy for us to excuse these bad practices abroad because without them, without foreign aid, even in the form of volunteer tourism, the reality may be even worse.”

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Youth Volunteering Project

Since the secondary programme began and as the years have gone by we have seen the children finish, and have followed what they have gone on to do in their lives for their families and for themselves when they have been into the office on occasions for advice and information.

Over the past years, we began to think about the possibility of involving them once again in SKIP. Why not call them again to see if they want to take part as volunteers? Who better to take on the role of assistants than those who have been in the classrooms? What better example for the children than other classmates who have already finished and are moving forward with their dreams? Why not someone who has been here before and who knows the programme?

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After several calls and meetings arranged through the families, in April we began this new graduate project. Three meetings were held with everyone who was interested, and we established the objectives of this new project, the activities they wanted to develop, their availability and interest in returning.

The idea is that on the one hand they will take part as classroom assistants and on the other they will be able to take the class they like most. At the same time we want to create a communication area which can be used to carry on learning but can also work as an information exchange, a place to bring ideas which can be enjoyed, an information point for concerns that might arise….a space that can be used to teach from their own reality, their personal experience of life based on everything they learnt as they passed through the classrooms at SKIP.

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To see that it is possible to follow dreams such as being a dance teacher, lawyer, doctor, police officer, school teacher, to combine their studies with giving their free time to the place they enjoyed not so long ago.

Jennifer, Marco, Carlos, Johny, Ada, Rosa, Jordan, Toushman,… Thank you for joining our-your team and for making this dream a reality!

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The Waves of the Sea bring Smiles, Hope and Excitement

Twice a year we go on a day trip with the SKIP students. Our aim is to have fun while, at the same, learning in a context outside that of the written word and the adding up of columns of numbers.

On this occasion it was the beach, in Salaverry. The town is home to a fishing port, boats of all sizes, fishermen and a peaceful beach.

We had it all planned; the only thing left to do was to let the families and students know the day and time for the enjoyment of a day of sun, sea and sand. Then, at the last minute, we were told that the buses we had been relying on weren’t available… Oh, no! (heads in our hands), What do we do? (all hands on deck).

No sooner was it said than done! Enthusiasm, love and hope are what drive us, and, so, we started to mobilise friends, relatives, past volunteers, etc. via social networks, and within two days we had enough money to hire buses to take all the SKIP students! It’s incredible how many generous people there are in the world…

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Families informed, rucksack packed with all the essentials, buses waiting at the gate, students brimming with excitement, mothers ready for the trip… Let’s go have some fun!

We all arrived at the beach wearing the biggest grins (needless to say that everyone had put on their best clothes, and even painted their nails), and, even though the sky was clouded over and there was a chilly breeze, nothing could stop us rushing to get straight in the water.

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Some of our students had never been to the beach before, so the trip was truly thrilling.

At SKIP we have daily, weekly and monthly plans for our work with the students, but, on this occasion, we let the students themselves organise the day’s activities.

Dipping our feet into the cold salt water for the first time, castles, pictures traced and shapes dug out in the earth, games in the waves, splashing each other, catching fish with our hands, finding sand crabs, searching for crabs among the rocks and watching how they move, more raucous games in the waves, chasing seagulls and watching them flock together, burying our feet in the sand, our hands, our bodies, digging and digging in the sand, fear and nervousness in the face of the unknown, the feeling of freedom with each movement in the water and in the sand, brimming with curiosity at each step, each movement, profound excitement conveyed in hugs and wide smiles, discovering what our bodies can do, making up incredible tales about huge fish, lauded friendship and fun group games, running and running til arriving breathless at the end of the beach, sharing food, along with love and joy, on the sand, going to the harbour to watch the fishermen, long walks together, races along the beach, happy mothers wearing smiles while they walk, talk, watch the goings on around them or buy fish, everyone transformed into children feeling the excitement of each of the SKIP students, smiles and understanding shared between us all, gratitude, joy… immense joy.

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Each game, each movement, each discovery… charged with beautiful emotions and feelings, of those that fill the heart, that are so intense that they wear out the body sending you to sleep on the bus ride home.

And so it was. We came back delighted and happy with the lovely day that we’d shared, worn out by the excitement, the races and the games.

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On the bus ride back to SKIP, everyone friends, everyone thrilled, everyone happy, everyone dreaming of the next trip.

Many thanks to the team of volunteers that, as always, gave their all: Adrián, Claudio, Fabianne, Fin, Hannah, Jacky, Katalina, Lali, Mar, Maja, Minerva, Silvia and Víctor. Thanks to the mothers, our classroom assistants, who accompanied us, along with their love and excitement. To the anonymous people who donated money so that we could realise this dream. To the bus company for looking after us on the way there and back.

The day was filled with magic, love and excitement, giving our all to the children who charmingly thanked us with their best smiles, and most heartfelt hugs and impassioned expressions.

Just like the ocean, every day we continue to drench ourselves in life!

Vanessa,
Primary Coordinator.

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Competitiveness is not a strength

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Should development organisations be taking lessons in competitiveness from the private sector? An article on the Guardian Professional Development site last month argued that we should. This may be true of the larger NGOs, but in the world of grassroots organisations, I strongly disagree…

This article, written by SKIP Director Liz Wilson, was published in the Guardian on April 22nd and presents some interesting thoughts around NGO collaboration in anticipation of the international NGO conference that SKIP will host in August.

Click here to read the full article in the Guardian.

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SKIP Director gives a TEDx Talk

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On February 14th the SKIP Director, Liz Wilson, took part in a TEDx Youth event in Valencia, Spain. Her speech is in English, with the title, “Do stuff you love and make a difference” and encourages people to get involved in community projects and volunteering as well as talking about Liz’s own motivation to work in international development projects. Click on this link to see the video

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Day Trip to the Conache Lagoon

In February we were able to take the mothers that participate in our artisan workshops on a day trip to the Conache Lagoon and the weather was perfect for the occasion! Conache is not far from Trujillo, but the mothers that participate with SKIP very rarely have the opportunity, or resources, to leave their neighborhood.

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After we arrived, the whole group took a nice walk around the lagoon and a few mothers even walked half way up the very steep sand dune located nearby! There was a farm on the property with all types of animals and many of the mothers were fawning over the baby goats. Everyone sat together to share lunch and chat.

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It was a relaxing and enjoyable day for all! A special thankyou to those of you who donated in order to make this trip possible! ~ Jeanette Harris