Monday 2nd to Friday 6th of this month were spent back on the beautiful Scottish Hebridean Isle of Coll for training in preparation for my gap year. It was only one day longer than selection back in October, but it is an awful lot more intense and demanding.
The Drive to Scotland
The ferry to Coll left early Monday morning, so I drove (with fellow volunteers Charlie and Gemma) to Oban on Sunday and stayed the night. After 410 miles drive and 8½ hours in the car I was well and truly glad to find my bed at the Oban Hostel! Naturally, Scooby was with us all the way!
Training ran for 4 days, and if I could sum it up in any word… it’s intense. It covers 36 sessions across a huge variety of topics, ranging from 15 minutes to 2 hours. We were briefed on safety, security, health, travel plans, classroom management, lesson planning, workplace politics, effective teaching, global citizenship… the list goes on. On top of that add lesson planning, desk officer (DO) talks, the ceildih and socialising and you can see why volunteers come back tired!
Probably the most useful and interesting part of the week were the several country talk sessions. In these you sit down as a country group with your DO and discuss your destination country; I’m not sure how much the topics vary for different countries, but our topics covered general information, hopes and fears, problem solving, workplace politics, safety and security, and “What Happens Next”.
Training gave me an awful lot of information about teaching, staying safe, and how to cope in Guyana. It also taught me that hammocks are wonderfully comfy, the important of liming* and gaffing**, and that going for a hike in the hills when you’re still awake at 4am after a late-night Ceilidh is an excellent way to see an amazing sunrise. Possibly one of the most important things I learned was Chris’ five rules of Guyana:
- Don’t judge Guyana on the capital – wait until you get to your project.
- Don’t piss off Kala.
- Kala is not to be pissed off.
- Never piss off Kala.
- Thou shalt not piss off Kala.
I should explain: Kala is our rep in Guyana – from the stories I’ve heard, she has an awful lot of power in Guyana, works very hard to keep us safe, and is a wonderful person!
All in all, the biggest take-away from training – my year in Guyana is going to awesome.
I hope this blog will be useful to some future volunteers, so here’s some info you may find handy: training is intense, but it’s a fantastic week. Be prepared for hard work, for writing lesson plans and then teaching them, for a couple of pretty hard-hitting sessions, and for seriously good times. Unless things change, you’ll be teaching a 10 and 20 minute lesson in front of a group of 5-6 people and a member of staff – once you get into it, it’s really good fun! If you’re likely to get tired easily, it’s easier to have a couple of Pro Plus on hand than to face the wrath of falling asleep mid-session – it has happened! Oh, and fair warning, your wakeup call will be someone marching up and down the dorm corridor banging a frying pan. I’m not joking.
The photos above aren’t really of training… more of the socialising and general larking around outside of training hours!
Training includes a session on flight details, which includes actually receiving your flight ticket! For anyone interested, I’ll be flying out of London on the 25th to Guyana, via Barbados!