Ventures in Africa and Asia
An expedition to Africa is no longer about finding the source of a great river, opening the region to trade or grabbing land for a King or an Emperor back home.
Your contribution to the world will be smaller but it will be to Africa rather than your homeland. Volunteers on an Africa and Asia Venture project spend three months teaching a variety of subjects in secondary and primary schools, receiving a local teacher's wage, before taking the opportunity to go on safari. There are also opportunities to work in wildlife management or on cultural projects.
Two past Africa & Asia Venture volunteers talk to us about their trips to Uganda ..
I looked across at my class for the first time and realised there were sixty pairs of expectant little eyes looking back at me. I think that was probably the moment that it hit me that I was actually in Uganda; I was actually working in a primary school and that I was not going home for a long, long time.
I applied to the 'Africa & Asia Venture' scheme from school. I wanted to take a gap year before devoting myself to another three years of English Language and Linguistics at Manchester University. Why become a teacher? You might well ask. I guess it is because I wanted to really experience the culture, to actually live somewhere different instead of just taking a holiday there. Becoming a teacher also gives me the chance to do something good with my time. But why did I apply to AV? It seemed well organised compared to other year out companies; the time span (4 months) was perfect and the fact that you get an eight day safari at the end definitely helped me make up my mind.
So what do I think of it all now? Well, after the initial shock wore off, everything was fine. I teach English, Maths, PE and 'Computers' to my class and I am having the time of my life. I don't think that I'll want to go home!
I decided to take a gap year between finishing 'A' levels in Maths, Business Economics and Geography at King's Langley School and before studying Management at Lancaster University.
In September last year I decided that I wanted to travel and do something worthwhile so I applied to several specialist gap year organisations. I chose Africa & Asia Venture' scheme because it gave me the chance to spend three months living and teaching in a completely different society. The scheme is well organised and includes a week long introduction to Africa and advice on teaching but nothing quite prepares you for the daunting prospect of being put in front of 50 or so eager and expectant faces.
I am teaching at Mwiri Primary School, a boys' boarding school about 5 miles outside of Jinja, Uganda's second largest city. I teach Maths, PE and computers to 54 boys aged between 10 and 14. I believe that by the end of my time in Africa I will really feel part of the community and hope to have gained greatly from my experience as well as being of value to others.
Africa & Asia Venture enable students to gain work experience in Africa, northern India and Nepal. A level students going onto further education or undergraduates taking time out can apply. Applicants should be aged over 17 and a half, and enjoy working with young people or conservation. Application and more info at www.aventure.co.uk
Image courtesy of J Luoh