project review

HIGHLY EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE

Review submitted by Hannah Steel
Review date 25 jul. 2018

header

I took part in the Frontier Madagascar Community Teaching Program for 6 weeks, and Forest Conservation for 1 week, over the months of February and March. I can honestly say it was a life changing experience, and I whole-heartedly and without reservation recommend it to anyone prepared to work hard and have an amazing time.

The project takes place in the town of Hellville, on the island of Nosy-Be off the North-West coast of Madagascar. The community house is very central in its location, being very close to all of the schools and places where volunteers work. I volunteered primarily at a primary school known to locals as "L'école frère," run by catholic nuns, the youth club of Nosy-Be, and a village school near to the Frontier Camp at Ambalahonko. At the catholic school, I taught around 5 or 6 30 minute lessons everyday, teaching them basic english such as body parts, and family members. Each class held around 70 children, which was very intimidating at first! However, in my first week, the community staff member trained me and guided me through how to best and most effectively teach, thus by my second week I was ready and raring to go! It was very rewarding teaching at the catholic school, and a lot of fun. The kids absolutely love the Frontier Volunteers, and always said "'Ello Annah!" whenever I passed them in the street after school and at weekends.

Every Friday, we would go to spend the night at the Frontier Camp at the village of Ambalahonko. It was great fun, and really good to spend time with the Forest and Marine staff members and volunteers. In the afternoon, we taught english at a school in a neighbouring village. Although the children were always quite loud, it was always a great learning experience and lots of fun! The walk there and back through the forest always involved seeing lemurs and eating mangos, which was an added bonus!

By far my favourite part of the project was teaching at the youth club. I taught them three times a week for two hours. It was great because I had a lot of freedom with what I taught them – I started by teaching them about Australia, and then over my 7 weeks covered subjects ranging from music and films to feminism. I really felt I was making a real difference in the lives of those who attended class, and we always had such a good laugh. Some of the students asked me to take extra classes with them, and so starting from my second week, I gave individual help and extra classes in all of my free time. Although it was tiring, I’m so glad I did this, because as a result I made life long friends, and became part of their family. One particular student, benefitted greatly from this extra help, and made it all worthwhile for me. In the beginning, although very strong at English, he lacked confidence in himself, and was too scared to apply for jobs (his dream is to become a tour guide). Over my stay, I made it my personal project to get him to apply for jobs and hopefully to secure one in the future. We worked on his oral skills, English CV and did practice interviews. In my last week, he finally secured an interview for an apprenticeship at the Economic Development Board of Madagascar. After many practice interviews at his house, he went for the interview, and came out having been offered the job! This made all of my hard work worthwhile, and deeply touched me. I also just found out he now also has a tour guide job secured for December.

I'm so glad I decided to take part in the Frontier Community Project in Madagascar. The opportunities that Frontier provided were really awesome, and it was so amazing to actually make a difference in the lives of our students. The work that Frontier does in Madagascar is incredible - it's reflected in the cheery greetings anyone in a Frontier t-shirt receives from any locals wandering past. The support from the staff members was superb, and they made the whole experience so amazing and highly educational. I hope to return very soon.