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.
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.
Primary 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!