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Staff Profile - Cass  McGilvray

Name: Cass McGilvray                                                           

Where are you from? Canberra, Australia                                           

Position: Assistant Teaching and Community Co-ordinator

Duration: 1 month out of 6

Interesting fact about yourself? I can’t dance.

What were you doing before you came to Madagascar? What was your job/occupation?

I was working as a full time teacher at Queanbeyan West Public School.

Why did you choose Madagascar?

I have worked in Africa before and am insanely and irrevocably in love with this continent! Madagascar is a country that I knew very little about before arriving. I saw the job description and researched the current initiatives that I would be working on and fell in love with the idea of being here. I’m a typical summer Aussie girl and living and working in paradise has been an insane blessing!

Why are you here? What is your aim? What are you hoping to achieve?

I recently graduated from University with a Bachelor of Education specialising in Early Childhood.

I love the fact that there are so many people in this world with compassionate hearts that would like to learn to teach. Unfortunately, with the demand for volunteering and the very nature of the work that volunteer organisations do, I feel that there is often insufficient training and mentoring for these people.

I do not believe that any Westerner can walk into any classroom in Africa (or anywhere else for that matter!) and do a good job. Being a native or fluent English speaker does not translate into having the skills required to teach effectively. I believe that teaching and community development needs to be authentic, sustainable and the people teaching need to do so at a high standard. For this to be possible, people need to be explicitly taught and mentored through the demanding, complex  (and very rewarding!) task of teaching English as a Foreign Language.

After four years of study and an even longer amount of time teaching, I feel I have the experience to raise the standard for volunteers and for local students. I want to help the people that come here to be the best teacher they can be so that their impact is real and profound.

Your favourite moment here/most memorable moment? Best memory? Best story/day?

My favourite moment thus far was watching one of my volunteers lead her first lesson. I felt so incredibly blessed and proud that I had been a part of helping this person to get to the point of being confident to deliver a quality lesson.

Any scary/crazy experiences? What got your heart racing?

Dancing in the rain always gets my heart racing! I don’t actually think I enjoy anything more than being caught in a Madagascar thunderstorm.

If you could have three things from home, what would they be? What do you miss?

I miss my family and friends. I would love to pack up everyone I love and care about and bring them here! I miss having my Mum to talk to. I miss running (it’s too damn hot to exercise at all here!) I miss hot showers and I miss my bed!

If you could take 3 things from Madagascar back home with you, what would they be?
Mangoes! The ocean! The language (Malagasy is so beautiful!)

Best wildlife experience?

I poured myself some cereal one morning and a bright green gecko landed in my bowl!

What will you take away with you? What have you learnt?

I’m learning how to be a better leader – to support and care for people in the way that they need me to. I’m learning to step away from what I think I want to teach people and start to listen, truly listen to what they themselves need.

I’m learning to be independent. To trust myself, my decisions, my instincts. I’m the type of person who is very easily influenced by how other people feel. I’m learning that it’s important that I make myself a priority, that I make decisions for me (and the project here!) by me!

I’m learning how to be grateful. To see everything as a blessing and a chance to grow and to take every opportunity I am given as a chance to make others happy.

Describe your time here in one word (got to have a bit of cheese)


By Cass McGilvray – Madagascar Assistant Teaching and Community Coordinator

Find out more about Frontier Madagascar Projects.

Check out what volunteers in Madagascar are up to right now!

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