Overall: The year I spent teaching in Guyana is one of my proudest and most challenging endeavors-- something I speak warmly and highly of even 7 years later. I was part of the first group of 25 volunteers in the pilot program (2005-2006), so in many ways, we were World Teach trailblazers in our school and community. To those that came in the following years, you might find this hard to believe, but as I'm sure you saw, change takes time. I attribute these early growing pains to some of the lower ratings. To future candidates, you don't want to miss out on this experience. It's truly like none other and the daily, non-tangible rewards are abundant.
My school near Georgetown, despite a recent World Fund grant, had many short comings including broken desks and benches; no chalk or teaching aids; books few and far between; not to mention an uninspiring headmistress, lazy teachers and rude children. Somehow despite these odds, you manage to corral your class into listening and learning for one period. And before you know, the dry season (first trimester) has passed and it's Christmastime and your students start asking you, "Miss are you coming back?"
Over the 11 months, you will undoubtedly encounter the seemingly most frustrating experiences like getting paid your salary on time, pushing to get a seat on the minibus on market day, no water/electricity days, little communication with home/the outside world. And before you know, it's the rainy season (second trimester) and you've figured out where the best/cheapest place is to buy tennis rolls and mangoes; how to comfortably sleep under mosquito netting; gained an appreciation for handwritten letters; and your students are excited for Mashramani celebrations.
In between all the teaching and the frustrating parts, you're learning too. Not only do you learn about another beautiful, unique culture and people, but you learn a lot about yourself through the difficulties and in stillness of simple, "unplugged" living. You travel by bike, boat, foot, minibus, and twin propeller plane to remote places of Guyana like Kaiteur Falls or to the coast to help with leatherback turtle conservation; you visit and laugh with your volunteer friends; or even a trip to the nearby Caribbean. And before you know it, it's time to go home. And if you're lucky enough, you have touched the lives of one student; you have new friends to reminisce with for years to come; and you know how to make a spicy curry/roti.