I had previously volunteered with Plan My Gap Year and loved it as the company is affordable and gives you a good amount of freedom whilst also giving a lot of support when needed. I had already decided I wanted to travel to both Thailand and Cambodia and decided I would volunteer for part of my time in Cambodia. I decided to teach English as it was an extra step up from volunteering in an orphanage, which I had previously done.
Amie is currently in her second year at the University of Sussex studying Geography and International Development. She has a keen interest in traveling, overseas volunteering, and charity work.
Why did you choose this program?
What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
PMGY sorted the volunteer placement, accommodation, travel to the accommodation and two meals a day. I had to organize weekend trips and getting to the pickup point to get the volunteer house. Although PMGY did not book these things, they still gave a lot of helpful advice so it was not hard to book.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Spend as long as you can there. The children at the Hope Agency are so special as they are so willing to learn. I became so attached so quickly and learned so much from my time there. I know that if I had stayed longer both myself and the kids could have got so much more out of it.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
At 8:30 am everyone wakes up to do chores around the volunteer house such as cleaning, gardening, and maintenance. This is followed by breakfast at 9.30 am which consists of fruit and pancakes, eggs, or hot dogs, etc. The rest of the morning is then free to plan lessons, go to the market, visit the orphanage or chill at the volunteer house.
I taught at the New School so we left at 1 pm and stayed until around 4:30, teaching 3 lessons with breaks in between. The evening meal is at 6:30 pm and consists of rice with a variety of different delicious dishes.
In the evenings, volunteers play cards, make friends and socialize. On some days it is possible to leave the house for activities such as football games. On Thursday evenings there is a "Pub Quiz" and then a night out. On the weekends, volunteers leave the Hope Agency at around 7:30 pm on Friday to go to their chosen destination and return on Monday morning.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
I had done a 20-hour TEFL course with assessed lessons and a 60-hour online TEFL course but I had no teaching experience so I was very scared that I would struggle or would not know what to do.
I would highly recommend doing the TEFL courses as they helped me so much and as soon as I got there I had no problem teaching the children. They were so willing to learn but also were learning at such a basic level that all you need is the ability to speak English, enthusiasm and some creativity and you can lead a class!
I would now love to develop my TEFL skills and teach more and would definitely not be as nervous about it as I was!