My Zambia experience – by Rachel Nixon
Having the opportunity to go out and volunteer in Zambia really is a once in a lifetime sort of experience.
While out there I was teaching in local school. I would plan and deliver lessons and work with the teachers so that both sides could gain the most out of my time there. I spent most of my time teaching Maths, English and Science as those were the subjects I felt I had most knowledge about but their curriculum encompasses many other subjects. I ended up helping teach almost anything from computing to sewing. Many of the teachers are eager to learn from you and find out more about different cultures, but there are challenges you must overcome while out there, however that is one of the things which make this experience so valuable.
The connections you make whilst out there will stay with you, the time you spend getting to know the teachers and helping the children really will impact on you. And you will gain so much from the experience as a whole. I feel I have become a lot more aware of the problems other countries face and what actually is the best way for us to aid in helping them.
Before you go out, you will spend time getting to know the people who you’ll be out in Zambia with and developing skills you’ll need whilst there. This can include going to teaching courses, first aid, and anything else which may help with your experience. You will become close to the people who you share your experience with, I still talk to many of the other volunteers and staff I went out with and have so many amazing experiences and memories which I share with them.
Another important skill you will gain is fundraising. At first it may seem daunting how much you have to raise but it is actually very manageable as long as you start early. It took me about four to five months to raise the amount I needed, and there are so many ways in which you can do it. I did a sponsored run and a coffee morning back home, but a large amount also came from fundraising as a group. We did events such as bake sales, a 12-hour cycling event, cloak room at the Union and a few other things, but you can do almost anything you can think of to raise the money. All the staff are also really helpful when it comes to fundraising.
I am so glad I was able to have this opportunity and if I had the chance to go back I definitely would. I have gained so many new insights and skills from my time preparing to go, all the way through to coming back to St Andrews. There were challenges and difficulties but there were also so many high points and good memories made.