Name: Erica Blundell
Nationality: New Zealander
Placement Country: Argentina
Dates: From March 2016 to
Name of the placement: Northands
Your role: English Teacher
1) Description of the work you did on placement:
My main role as a volunteer at Northlands is to assist with the Reading, Writing and Math workshops of my Year 3 & 5 classes. This often involves taking a small group of students out of the classroom and supervising/assisting them with their work in a more personal environment. Reading to the children or preparing resources are other common tasks.
2) What new skills have you learnt?
The main skills that I have learnt are centred around classroom management. Learning how to organize the activities in such a way that interests the students is paramount for their engagement in their own learning. Ensuring that the children are posed with open questions is also very important in the process of their learning - guiding them to the answers as opposed to giving them. I have also exercised the skill of phrasing things in such a way that helps the children to understand difficult concepts in their second language without resorting to their first.
3) What was the best thing about being a volunteer?
One of the best parts is the children that I work with. They are so fascinated by us and are always so excited to learn from us! This makes the work a lot of fun and really brings about a sense of purpose in my presence. The other best part for me is travelling with the other volunteers over the weekends or holidays. I have made friends for life with them and together we get to play tourists and explore South America! Can’t ask for anything better.
4) What did you learn about the community you lived in?
Seeing as Northlands is one of the top bilingual schools in Argentina, most of my students’ parents are CEOs of major companies, politicians, or are part of other prestigious circles. It is clear that my students come from very privileged
backgrounds, which is different from my own community at home. Living and working in this community has helped me to realize that we all have the same basic needs, no matter what our backgrounds look like.
5) What are your plans for the future and how have they been shaped by your Lattitude placement?
My plan for the future is to return home to study Psychology at The University of Otago. Teaching has always been a career interest in the back of my mind and since I have enjoyed my teaching placement with Lattitude so much, I have decided to seriously explore the concept of teaching after I finish my degree!
6) Any other comments:
I really underestimated the effect that my friendships with the other volunteers would have on my own experience. All of us Lattitude volunteers placed in Argentina (not just the kiwis) bonded unbelievably quick, and being part of such a close and supportive unit has totally enhanced my already awesome Lattitude experience. I know that these guys are my friends for life and that we will all continue to travel together in the future!