The Volunteer’s New Year

The Volunteer’s New Year

Volunteer Samantha Haddin opts to stay in Dili, Timor-Leste, over the holidays, finding very different celebrations as well as time to reflect and plan ahead.

I spent Christmas Day at a teacher’s home celebrating her daughter’s First Holy Communion which was lovely. If not for the First Communion, I don’t think much celebrating would have gone on – Christmas here is very low key which made for a nice change really.

NYE I had a few people around at the house I was sitting. The house has a roof top terrace but unfortunately, it rained all evening so we weren’t able to use it properly. Although we did head up just before midnight to bring in the new year. There was a modest fireworks display but everyone was happy and it was a really nice way to begin 2015.

Now, Guida and I are busy planning our role for 2015. We spoke to Fr Alberty about what we would be doing in the schools and he is supportive. We agreed to continue doing what we were doing last year but with a few major adjustments:

We will conduct workshops/teacher training once a week (to begin with) for the teachers to attend. We will also offer in-class support.

  1. We will work with the Yr 7 and 8 teachers in planning and teaching the English curriculum. We will no longer have a separate English class, rather we shall team teach with the Timorese teachers and also plan with them. I will also give one-to-one tutoring to one of the English teachers to improve his ability to teach English as a subject.
  2. We will continue to teach Yr 5 and 6 English but only if it doesn’t interfere with other priorities such as Yr 7 and 8.
  3. Guida will continue her remedial reading program for the kids who cannot read tetun. A teacher showed interest in working with Guida in this so Guida is hoping to get her on board with it as well.

We were doing these things in some form or another last year as well, however I think the difference this year, is that it will be very clear what our role should be in the schools and it is beginning to be understood that we are not just here to teach English.

I’m also hoping to develop a stronger connection with the MacKillop Institute. I was speaking to Sr Nola about the motivating some of the teachers and she made a few suggestions wherein the Institute might be able to help. One of the conditions with the Institute financially supporting some of the teachers is that they  undergo training, usually provided by the Institute. Sr Nola suggested that we might be able to extend that to include all teachers, not just those supported by the Institute.

Also, the new curriculum for Yr 1 is due to be implemented this year. The teachers are aware of it however it has yet to be delivered to the schools. But at least they know about it and we can start talking about how we are going to practice it in the classroom.

School officially begins next week. I think Sabracalaran school will be the easiest to work with…Bedois will be a challenge.

It’s been rather stormy here lately – roads are awash with mud and rubbish as the inadequate drains get clogged up. But it has meant that it hasn’t been as hot.

I chopped the tip of my finger off last week…it’s almost healed. Bloody hurt though!

And I taught myself how to restring a guitar.

I think that’s about all the news I have so I’ll sign off.

Take care,