It really is difficult to know where to start but I have to admit that I’ve had one of the best experiences of my life as a volunteer teacher at the Melangking Palm Oil Estate.
As a Primary Teacher with 15 years experience I decided to do something different for my 6 week summer holiday and opted to volunteer as a teacher for a month in Borneo. This decision has turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever made!
The parachute game
Most of my teaching background has been working with children aged 3-8 so I was keen to work with children of a similar age. I therefore taught the kindergarten classes in 2 of the schools every morning. (MOP B and C) The teachers and the children really welcomed me with open arms are were keen to learn some new teaching strategies and approaches. I had brought a lot of resources with me from Scotland, which helped me to introduce some more interactive ways of teaching. Most of the teaching in the school is through workbooks and blackboards and there are very little opportunities for game and activities. I introduced digit cards for maths, bingo, beach ball maths, Jolly Phonics songs, flip flap books and songs for both maths and English. I also took out some picture books and used these as a means to teach science and English at the same time. The children were very enthusiastic about the new fun ideas as were the teachers. At the end of the month I really felt that I had made a difference as I was able to leave my resources with the schools and the teachers were very excited that they would be able to continue to use them in the future. One of the teachers is the co-ordinator for the local area and she was keen to share the new methods with the other schools in the surrounding areas.
Arts & craft: Paper weaving
In the afternoons I went to the third school (MOP A) and did a variety of different activities with them e.g arts and crafts, bingo, sports, friendship bracelets etc. This allowed me to work with both the children and teachers on a more informal level and the children really enjoyed having a variety of different things to do in the afternoons.
Interactive lesson with a ball used as a media to interact with other students
On Friday mornings I went to the Sports Field at MOP A and all 3 schools were invited to come for a sports morning. Unfortunately due to transport issues and the weather we only managed for 2 of the schools to come together but nevertheless the children and teachers had a great time. I had brought a parachute with me and everyone enjoyed playing new games with it. I also brought a beanbag game, a set of skittles and a yoga book from Scotland and all were very well received. As with the teaching materials I gifted these new resources to the schools to keep for future sessions which I’m sure they will all continue to use and enjoy.
All of the above would not have been so enjoyable without the hospitality of Mr Chee (the manager of the Plantation.) He is just such a wonderful, caring individual who will do anything to help support the volunteers during their stay on the plantation. I really can’t speak of him highly enough. Everyday we would have our three meals at Mr Chee’s house and nothing was too much bother. I can honestly say that I’ve never eaten so well for a month – we had everything from fresh prawns and free range eggs and chicken to coconut juice drunk straight from the shell and fresh pineapple and dragon fruit.
Mr Chee and Mr Wong (another of the managers) were also keen to support volunteers when arranging their weekend trips. I was lucky enough to visit Sepilok to see the Orangatans, the Kinbatagan River to see the monkeys and wonderful bird life, Mabul Island to swim with the turtles and an wonderful trip to the capital Kota Kinabalu for some sun, sea, sand and shopping!
I really can not speak highly enough of the project – the children, teachers, Mr Chee, Mr Wong and the support from Charmaine from the beginning and during my first week on the plantation.
Thank you to everyone for making July 2012 a month of wonderful memories that I will treasure forever.
Volunteer Teacher from Scotland
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