REVIEWS AND FEEDBACK
Heather Sandilands (Scottish):
"Well, my expectations have certainly been exceeded during my stay here! ... The school is fantastic, the children make the best of what is available to them and the teachers are very friendly and have been so appreciative of what I’ve been able to do for them.
Assisting with English has been great -not an easy language to learn for them as their first additional language. Helping coach sport and PE lessons has been fantastic fun and at times been quite challenging since they have only a small concrete area to play on due to temporary losing their sports field to the building of a new high school next door.
I am very sad to be leaving the school very soon and particularly sad that I will never know how the children will fair and where their lives will take them... all really good I hope!"
Kara Heubi (American):
"Not only are you seeing changes in the children through your teaching but changes in yourself being exposed to a foreign culture. I can't tell you how differently you see the world when you live in another country --- it is something everyone should experience, especially in such a beautiful, friendly country as South Africa!
The best thing about the placement was the kids. You can't get enough of them.
Can you describe a typical day?: We get up around 6:00 and rush to get a shower in and make a sandwich for lunch. Pauline comes to pick us up at 7:10 and we arrive right before school starts.
We usually have a few periods off here and there but otherwise we are busy teaching or grading papers.
After school, we all sit around for a cup of tea on the porch and chat before we head off to the soup kitchen. There the kids great us with the biggest smiles as they all line up with their plates ready for us to serve the food.
We take a taxi back home and watch tv until dinner is ready (around 6). Usually one of us makes it and another cleans up and we rotate throughout the week. Later on, we sit around the table and chat for hours until finally we hop into bed at 11 or 12.
The weekends are a different story as we travel loads, seeing sights during the day and enjoying a good meal and some drinks at a bar at night."
Laura Siddle (British):
"I thought Sharon was fantastic! She really made you feel at home as soon as you got there, and went above and beyond what was required from her role. She really helped me get the most out of my stay in Knysna.
I really did have the most fantastic time out in South Africa. It is without a doubt the best thing I have ever done.
I spent 3 days a week at a Soup Kitchen in one of the local townships, just helping out with dishing up food, cleaning up the bowls etc. and playing with the kids, giving them lots of attention. It was an optional after-school activity which I was really keen on doing as it allowed me to spend time in a different township and different culture - and spend even more time with kids!
I have come home with a completely different attitude. Seeing these things first hand really makes you appreciate the nature of the situation in countries like SA. Everyone knows that poverty is out there in the world, but seeing it is something else. I feel like I have experienced the real South Africa, spending practically all my time with the locals and in the townships.
This was the best experience I have ever had! I feel like I'm becoming more confident and more independent. I really feel like I've been able to experience true South Africa, having lived in Knysna for such a long time, and also spending so much time in the townships. And the best part of the project were the kids without a doubt!"
Laura Siddle (British):
"On a typical day, Sharon would pick us up at around 7.30 to go to school. School started at 8 on Mondays, the first session was assembly, followed by maths, so lessons didn't start until 9.25. All other days lessons started at 8.40 after the maths session. You are given a timetable/schedule which tells you which classes you are working with in which lessons, so I would then go to my first lessons. First break was at 10.10 for 25 minutes, followed by a Reading period throughout the entire school. As I was helping with the English teachers, I spent this time with a class helping them with their English reading.
There are then 2 more periods up until second break which was at 12.30 for 20 minutes. There are 2 final lessons in the afternoon, with the school day finishing at 2.00, which is when Sharon comes to collect you. I was working in English classes, and spent the majority of my time with Grades 4, 5 and 7. In Grades 4 and 5 I helped with reading and writing assessments, and assisting the class teacher wherever possible and wherever needed. In Grade 7, I took some of the classes under guidance of the class teacher - he would take the first class, and then when the next class came in I would take the lesson.
In addition to all of the above, I lent a hand quite a lot with the marking of tests and homework, even exams and exam moderation. So be prepared to help with the administrative side of working in a school too! I also spent 3 days a week in the Soup Kitchen after school, helping with dishing up food and basically playing with the kids and giving them some much deserved attention. I would go after school at about quarter to 3 and stay for just over an hour, dishing up the food, cleaning up the bowls, and then playing with the kids."
David Corbet (British):
"Regarding the experience I'm gaining on the teaching placement alone, I am beginning to develop my skills in the classroom. For example, keeping the children's attention throughout the lesson is becoming a less frantic task as my placement progresses, as is the planning of lessons; this is due to my increasing teaching skills but also because of the close relationship I am building with many of the students.
I am also becoming more aware of how the skills they are gaining at school will eventually determine their futures, inspiring me to make the most of my time in the school.
The best thing on my placement so far is, Number one: the other volunteers, who, over just two weeks, I have bonded with greatly; it was very sad to see the first two, Jack and Tim, leave this weekend. Close second: the school-children and their constant enthusiasm, (despite their rowdiness in certain lessons!) The weekends are definitely up there with the first two, the world's highest bungee jump certainly hitting the top spot in that aspect of my placement.
I would recommend this placement without hesitation."
VOLUNTEERING WITH CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE ADULTS
As well as protecting all our volunteers, Budget Volunteering is committed to all our projects and dedicated to practices which protect children and vulnerable adults from harm.
LOCATION - KNYSNA:
Knysna is approximately 500km from the beautiful capital city of Cape Town and
voted South Africa’s favourite town 4 years in a row! Its mountainous backdrop,
impressively sized estuary and indigenous forests really give the town a natural
feel to it. Although it still has that ‘small-town’ feel, Knysna is growing rapidly,
and has all the amenities you could ask for such as banks, hotels, internet café’s,
cinemas and shopping malls.
Knysna nestles on the banks of a beautiful lagoon in the heart of the ‘Garden Route’
of South Africa. It is surrounded by a natural paradise of lush indigenous forests,
tranquil lakes and golden beaches, making it a real natural wonderland.
Knysna is a vibrant town, buzzing with creativity and energy, and the pulse of good
music. It's a place where the you can enjoy the mellow atmosphere of street cafes,
watching the world go by. The main street is very leafy with trees along the pavements
and it has a wonderful holiday atmosphere with sun umbrellas everywhere.
Most cafes have outdoors seating areas overlooking the street or on the pavements,
with colourful sun umbrellas - a perfect place to sit with the sun on your face,
watching passers-by ambling along, sipping a steamy cappucino or staving off the
heat with a cold drink.
About 20-30 minutes' drive away from Knysna you'll find Plettenberg Bay (better
simply as Plett), which is a bit smaller than Knysna, but equally stunning.
pure white beaches stretch as far as the eye can see and there is a lot to do,
whale and dolphin watching, to hiking trails and awesome nightlife.
The Garden Route is famous for all sorts of activities from adrenalin sports such
as bungee jumping, skydiving and shark cage diving to more relaxed pursuits such
as hiking, quad biking in the forest or visiting one of the many animal sanctuaries
in the area. Your local Travellers liaison will be happy to assist you in finding
interesting things to do and places to see so make the most of it!
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