Ask me what I was doing every Thursday night in Brisbane and I would answer, “Late night shopping!” There would always be that sense of achievement when I found a parking space, the difficult decision of should I go Subway, Chinese or Turkish? Do I have room for a Maccas’ ice cream? Shopping was also a great excuse for me and my mum to catch up with my grandma each week.
The latter is probably the only thing I really miss, being in Timor Leste.
Now my Thursday nights are just that little bit different.
I am a Palms’ volunteer, working to support the priests, teachers and students in the St Teresinha do Menino Jesus Parish, Bedois, Dili, Timor Leste.
Every Thursday night, when the clock strikes six (or a little bit before or afterwards!), my favourite time of the week starts. Community class happens once a week in the hall next to our house. It’s a chance for children to come and learn English through games, songs and play. In true Timorese style, the older children always encourage the younger ones to try and help them practise, I always feel really inspired when I see this happen!
Class sizes of 40+ in the local schools, make some activities difficult to implement so I relish the opportunity to put into practice more hands-on activities with a smaller group! I’ve just recently started team-teaching with a local volunteer tutor – Mana Obelita. She is a high school graduate who has previously volunteered as an English tutor at her local university. Her dream is to get a scholarship to study English and International Development at university.
We meet earlier in the week to plan our lessons together. Through our planning, Mana Obelita practices her English skills and builds her knowledge of teaching techniques. That is Palms’ aim, to work alongside locals in solidarity. I think it’s really important for the children to see someone from their community working with me in partnership.