I believe volunteering is a great way to learn more about others. Volunteering allows me to see a broader perspective of what daily life is for Czech students in comparison to the students I have experienced through my college's education program's volunteer placements. I approached the kind staff in the CEA office to see if there were any opportunities for me or other resources I could utilize. Surprisingly that day CEA made a partnership with Riverside School called “iShare Volunteering Program.” The program would allow CEA volunteers to “participate and support the school in different areas and with different groups of children.” The volunteering program only required the CEA volunteers to commit to volunteering two times during the semester. The Riverside schools are international schools that speak English in the classrooms, and have students attend from all over the world.
I decided this study abroad program would be a great investment for me as I plan to have a career as a high school Social Studies teacher. I went through the short process of filling out what age group of kids and what subjects I was interested in working with, and I wrote a brief letter of interest. Shortly after my submission, I met with the principal of the middle school to discuss our placements, the Riverside school values, what I wanted out of this experience, and safety procedures of the schools.
One of my placements was at the Early Years school, which is similar to a pre-school in the United States. I enjoy working with younger kids, so I thought it would be a great learning experience to compare and contrast this international school to my experience within the United States. I decided to go to the Early Years school once a week for three hours. So far my time has been spent practicing conversational skills with the students, reading out loud, accompanying students at recess, and assisting with the occasional art projects. There has not been a dull day since beginning my volunteer here, and it helps to start my day off on a positive note.
My second placement was at the Riverside High School. I go two times a week, each day for about three hours. In this setting I was able to sit in on history, English, and English Additional Language (EAL) courses to observe the classroom management and teaching strategies. Each time of volunteering I was able to do a range of activities, from working on English with students, going over their rough drafts for corrections, helping with assignments or grading homework. The last time I volunteered I was able to help students with their Romeo and Juliet skits, and even be an actor in one of the skits when they performed.
So far I have enjoyed this chance of volunteering because I am able to learn more about international schools and the Czech culture. I am excited to still have a few more weeks left to get to know the students better and learn more about the education system in an international school.
Lisa Jordahl is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Prague, Czech Republic. She is currently a senior at St. Norbert College
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