Zambia calls teacher
THIS Sunday, June 28, Stephanie McDonald will board a plane and fly to the place of her dreams: Africa.
The Tarwin Lower Primary School teacher will spend seven weeks teaching in a school in Zambia.
Based in the city of Livingstone, population around 137,000, she will teach classes of up to 50 students – a far cry from the riverside serenity of Tarwin Lower.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Africa so I thought I would just do it,” she said.
Ms McDonald is volunteering through the organisation African Impact, and will spend mornings at a school teaching English and maths, and the afternoons helping with community projects.
“I just want to use my skills to help poorer countries and poorer people. It’s great to get to travel and be a part of the community, you just learn so much,” she said.
Living in a house of volunteers at a backpackers hostel, she will receive three meals a day in return for her services.
Already, Ms McDonald knows the language barrier will present challenges.
“In primary school, the students are taught in their native tongue and then in secondary school they have to be taught in English,” she said.
Now instructing students in grades Prep, One and Two at Tarwin Lower, Ms McDonald expects to teach children aged 12 and over in Zambia.
“But they will still be learning English so it will be kind of the equivalent of teaching the younger children,” she said.
Education levels are low in Zambia and people are typically poor, but children value schooling.
“Some of them walk just over an hour to get to school but they believe education will bring opportunities for them,” Miss McDonald said.
Zambia was her country of her choice for its proximity to the majestic Victoria Falls, more than 400m high.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to see,” she said.
After her teaching stint, Miss McDonald will embark on a three-week safari exploring the wilds of east Africa.
“I’m hoping to see some pretty cool animals,” she said, adding spotting a zebra topped her list.
The adventurous teacher is no stranger to international travel, having taught in a school in the English capital of London in 2010 and 2011.
“It was a challenge, especially in inner London as there are some difficult children and it’s very mixed nationalities,” she said.
“It’s a bit different to Tarwin Lower.”
Her young charges at Tarwin Lower can’t wait for Miss McDonald to return.
“You learn new ideas, new ways of doing things and being immersed in another culture, you just take those ideas on board,” she said.
“I will bring that back and share it with the students because it just broadens their horizons. I may even try to write a blog while I’m away.
“You need a new challenge to keep growing and learning, and you need to get out of your comfort zone.”
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