Volunteer Review: Gemma M., Teach IT in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka was to be my final stop with Projects Abroad after already taking part in projects in Thailand and Cambodia. I arrived in the middle of the night to extreme heat and rain - both of which I would get used to during my stay.
I spent my two months in the small palm tree lined village of Mawala working at the IT Centre set up by Projects Abroad. When I arrived it was a month into the three month course that the students take covering Microsoft packages and computer theory. After a short time in my new role, the Sinhalese teacher Kaushayla concentrated on teaching the students the theory, and was happy to allow me to decide how I would cover the practical side of the course. This enabled me to get really involved in the students' learning by preparing lessons and worksheets for them.
Class sizes were small, normally with eight students at a time which meant there was the opportunity to give each student individual attention and help with the work as much as they needed.
Time away from the IT Centre was spent at The Blue Water hotel meeting up with other volunteers in the area. When the weather was good it was a great way to relax after work and I never tired of watching the sun going down over the sea.
I spent my weekends at various destinations in the country, which included several visits to the beach, white water rafting, water sports, the Sinharaja rainforest and Ella and Nurawa Eliya in the hill country. These weekends enabled me to get to know other volunteers and also to see some of Sri Lanka, which is a truly beautiful country.
The final few weeks proved to be quite busy in the lead up to the exams. Time at work was filled with helping the students revise and writing their practical exams, and then there was the task of marking almost 70 papers which involved staying late on several occasions, but I was happy to put in the extra time whenever necessary. Marking their exams was a long process but I also found it extremely satisfying seeing that they had learnt the skills I had taught them and were able to repeat them by themselves.
My final day at work was also the day of the certificate giving, and a small party for everyone. It was a really good way of rounding off my time, and I felt very proud that all of the students I had taught and got to know in my two months passed their exams well and were rewarded with a certificate, (and a large amount of chocolate cake and biscuits!).
The Projects Abroad staff were incredibly helpful during my stay, checking that everything was ok with my placement and in Sri Lanka in general. It was very reassuring that there were people around to help if I ever needed it.
My two months in Sri Lanka were a completely different experience from the other countries that I had visited, but also a really good way to end my travels with Projects Abroad. I found working at the IT Centre really enjoyable and also extremely rewarding, and had some amazing times with other volunteers on the weekends. The IT Centre is a great place to work and the students are really keen to learn (though some are a little more interested in playing games!). I think the project is a really worthwhile one as I know how important IT skills are to have so it was my pleasure to help in teaching the students to enable them to gain important practical skills which will be of great benefit to them in the future.
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. Find out more about what you can expect from this project, or speak to one of our friendly Program Advisors.