As I am nearing the end of my stay in Watamu, Kenya, I can't ignore the slight lump in my throat as I think about the little time I have left here... I have been volunteering in Watamu for almost two months, primarily working as an art teacher at the most beautiful grassroots school called Blue Bells Junior Academy. This is the second school that has been funded by Team Bushbells. It is small, consisting only of 50 children, which gave me ample opportunity to take a personal interest in all of them. Coming from limited teaching experience, I had my reservations and insecurities about how I would be able to handle a class of 20 kids, but surprisingly, I slipped into the role with ease - not without the help of the amazing teachers at the school.
Through my experience at Blue Bells, I have found an entirely new respect for teachers - seeing how hard they work under difficult circumstances was truly humbling. I taught three one-hour-long art classes a day, and also helped in other classrooms by assisting with exam invigilation and marking as well as creating bright and beautiful posters for the teachers to put up in their classrooms.
My time here has been personally uplifting. I came with the goal to be as flexible and as engaged as I possibly could and I feel as though these two things helped me acclimatise to the foreign environment and the experience of traveling alone very well.
I came to the school with all the art lessons pre-planned, but on my first day I really got to gauge how well the students understood my instruction. This resulted in me having to adjust all further lessons to suit my individual classes. The children loved learning some of the basic art techniques - I taught them about colours and shapes, as well as using playdough for the first time.
Of all the experiences, the best time I had with the children was when we engaged in dialogue and played outside. Their vibrancy and enthusiasm to learn and grow has regenerated my passion for children and creativity. There is nothing I can express in words that will truly explain how rewarding this experience has been, but all I can say is that I am leaving here a better person than I was when I arrived, and I will certainly be back for more!
Athena, thank you so much for giving your full commitment to this project – you were a fab volunteer, full of energy and creativity!
Wow Theens ! So proud of you ! This is really amazing and very well written. You have made such a difference and we are all so proud of you. Love you lots xx