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Group Size: Max. 12
Trip code: MAVT
Duration: 4-8 weeks
Located at the southern end of Lake Malawi, local primary and secondary schools need a vital injection of help to get young minds growing. By contributing as a teaching volunteer you’ll be providing support in overcrowded classrooms and mentoring Malawian kids. Most of our Malawi teaching placements require that you attend a weekend TEFL course in preparation, so you'll add a coveted teaching qualification to your CV as well as gaining valuable teaching experience.
Arriving at your volunteer house on a Monday evening, you’ll have the rest of the night to settle in, catch up on any jetlag, try out a little local flavour at dinner and meet the other volunteers you’ll be staying with.
The next morning, Tuesday, we give you the day to prepare for your Malawian life, and will provide an orientation covering all the basic things you’ll need to know about the area, and how to get along here on a day-to-day basis. Covering a range of topics, this introduction will let you know about the following –
After lunch you’ll take a tour of the local area and the town so you have a chance to familiarise yourself. At the local market you’ll have an opportunity to begin your Malawian trip in true African style where you can buy some local material to make a wrap around skirt.
Volunteers will mainly be working in a teaching role in local primary schools, however, if your teaching skills are a little more advanced you may have the opportunity to extend your educational reach and help out some older students in secondary schools.
During your time teaching your daily routine will vary as there’s a lot of different material to be taught! For the first few days however, you’ll most likely remain a classroom observer as you adapt to alternative teaching methods, larger class sizes, get to know your class and the teacher, and figure how you’ll be most useful. Keep your eyes peeled though and remain proactive, as it’s always helpful to get stuck in as much as you can and as soon as possible to make the most of your volunteering experience! At first you’ll start out by assisting, but as your confidence grows, or if you’re a bit of a specialist in a particular area, you’ll have the opportunity to start creating lesson plans, and lead classes yourself.
For an idea of your average day, you’ll need to be prepared for an early start as the Malawian school day begins and ends earlier than in the UK - you’ll need to leave for your placement by 7am. By 11am you should have finished your morning’s teaching and be able to take a leisurely lunch break during the hottest part of the day. Between Monday and Thursdays, afternoon activities start up and are usually rocking on by the time it’s cooled off a little at 2pm (sometimes 3 if sport is on the agenda). By 5pm your day will be done, and you’ll be back at the volunteer house for a well earned rest. Friday afternoon is your designated free-time, so go ahead and enjoy an early start to your weekend!
The afternoon activities you can get involved with vary depending on which school you help, but a few of the more common clubs include -
You are not expected to do anything you are uncomfortable with during your trip, so if you have a problem with standing up in front of a class full of kids at first, don’t worry, you can still address the problem of large class sizes and ensure that all of the children are receiving sufficient attention ad help! If you do feel uncomfortable at any stage, please do not hesitate to ask for help from your class teacher.
The school holidays run with a fairly similar structure to the UK, though the dates are less rigid. The longest holiday is in the summer, with shorter ones at Easter and Christmas, but don’t worry – you can still help out during the holidays! The school runs morning activities and some lessons during the breaks which are organised and initiated by volunteers, with the support of the project coordinators and school heads. Teaching Arts & Crafts, music, drama, helping improve English and reading skills, giving wildlife and environment classes, as well as helping organise and coach sports. Your input during the holidays is highly valued as it helps to keep a lot of children off the streets, giving them something valuable to do, and keeps them out of trouble. There tends to be fewer children than you would expect in a school classroom, but the benefit of this is that you can provide slightly more individual attention to the children with more manageable numbers. Of course, as with any children worldwide, you’ll need to be motivated enough to keep your classes interesting, and keep the children coming – it is the school holidays after all!
Free time (Friday afternoons and weekends) can be spent on a number of things, and as your volunteer house is right on the banks of Lake Malawi, swimming through the sparking waters after a hot day is especially popular. Otherwise, you’ll have the chance to just relax at the house, or take a trip to see a little more of the area. Weekend excursions are not included in the price, though for around (£100 / USD150) you will receive transportation, 2 nights accommodation, three meals a day and have a staff member with you to act as a guide. Trips can be paid for locally, and include wildlife spotting in Liwonde National Park, water sports, boat rides and beach relaxation at Cape Maclear - a popular tourist village, and a forest and horse trek experience in the forests of the Zomba Plateau.
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