So it's been a week! I've been teaching environmental science, something I'm very passionate about, to children in a refugee school in Malaysia. The organisation I'm doing it through is called Yellow House and whilst it's a very rustic lifestyle, the projects they do in the community are incredible.
I won't lie, I've been struggling getting back in a routine! I've had no work for 5 months now, not had to cook (or rather not been able!), clean or even been told what to do. So getting up at 7am everyday, doing chores, looking after pets, it's been an adjustment, but one I'm more than happy to make for the payoff. I get to plan the lessons myself with very little interference, the resources are pretty limited but I expected no different. It's pretty much me and a whiteboard for an hour and 45 minutes! At first I thought it was too long but between the language barrier, which is minor but there none the less, and the slow pace of life here it's necessary. Plus it means I get to do as many physical activities as possible. In just 5 lessons I've already had them create zero impact packaging, draw a cartoon storyboard and create a 5 minute news segment. I'm enthused and excited when I wake up to teach them the topics I've planned, something that hasn't happened in a while.
The students are lovely and so interested in my culture, I was struck by just how similar they were to students back home. After the first lesson, where I guess I was a novelty, they still play on their phones, chat over me, go off task and even try to get out of doing work using the same tactics. One student kept telling me he didn't understand, by the 2nd time I went through it with him, I realised he just couldn't be bothered. I confronted him, said 'i think you just can't be bothered, you have all the information on the board, I just want full sentences, I've taught kids in London I know when you just can't be bothered so come on stop messing around and get on with it’ he laughed and said ' all right miss’ proceeding to get it all right! Students I guess are the same no matter where they are, and that at least is a comforting thought. I think.
I'm planning the next week and I'm really hoping I can raise enough money to take the group to the science museum, a place I doubt they would ever be able to go otherwise. It's my first forray into planning a school trip, I've been on trips and I have helped organise Duke of Edinburgh, but this it feels like is all mine. And I can't wait!
Not only does yellow house work with the school on science but other volunteers teach English both to the students and adults. We also all help out with a sewing class for local women, giving then something to do that isn't spending the whole day at home, and we all get involved in the homeless projects, be it feeding them or doing a street salon.
After Manchester and London, I said how important it was to look for the helpers and I'm proud I can say that for the past and next week I am a helper! And I'm loving it!
I've also decided that tomorrow I will be sharing Ramadan with Amjad Ali (@ASTsupportAAli). Spending a week teaching students in 35 to 40 degree C heat has given me a brief glimpse into how hard Ramadan must be for these students and students everywhere. So my very small way to understand this even further is to walk a day in their shoes. I think what I'll find the hardest is no water, I get dehydrated easily and don't want to get a migraine. But these are things Muslims are dealing with for 30 days, I hope I can last just 1 day!