The moment I stepped off the plane in Nosy Be, all of my nerves turned into excitement. I got picked up from the airport straight away by a member of Frontier and taken to Hell-Ville. One of the first things I noticed was of course the heat (which I think will take a while for me to get used to), but I was stunned by how green it all is.
Entries in #nosybe (4)
Celine first arrived in Nosy Be in March this year, for 6 months, as the Teaching Project Coordinator; but soon after arriving home, decided that she missed it too much and needed to come back. This time she's here for a year as Project Coordinator for Frontier Madagascar. She clearly just can’t get enough of Madagascar! I interrogated her to find out more…
This week at community we took some time out to go exploring the islands around Nosy Be. Nosy Iranja was our first trip which got off to a great start as we spotted a large group of spinner dolphins. So we quickly grabbed our snorkels and fins and went swimming with the dolphins.
On arrival in Nosy Be, Madagascar I was greeted by the huge bustle of “taxi, taxi, taxi” coming from the many drivers awaiting tourists straight out of the airport. Which, you can imagine is pretty daunting, having absolutely no idea what to expect in the first place! Since that day I’ve never been so relieved to look around and see someone in a Frontier T-shirt.
But, after my first few days located in the community house and doing the community teaching project, I soon realised that Madagascar really is such a welcoming and homely place to be and I was so excited to spend the next four weeks here! … However, those four weeks quickly turned into an eight week stay, when I decided that just one month was nowhere near going to be enough time to get everything out of my stay!
During my first day of teaching at the local primary school, I really was thrown in at the deep end! Straight into one of the more challenging classes, where some students are super eager to learn but at the same time some are almost ‘far too cool for school’. But I wasn't alone… the other community volunteer, Fabian, soon taught me the ropes on how to handle them! Teaching 4 days a week is definitely not easy - especially when you've got 60-70 faces staring back at you, trying to comprehend what you're saying in a foreign language, but it’s so rewarding. I’ve never seen children so eager to learn, jumping up and down with their hands in the air, trying to get your attention to pick them to write on the board first, even if it is just the date!
The majority of the students that I teach at l’école frère speak the native language of Malagasy, only some of the older students can understand French as well as Malagasy. This puts a huge strain on the ways that we can teach effectively, meaning that many of our lessons are picture orientated, or using and pointing at objects, then getting the pupils to simply repeat the English words after you. My creativity skills have definitely been broadened - so much so that getting class members up at the front and placing objects such as socks (not necessarily clean) on their heads, became a regular activity whilst teaching the topic of ‘prepositions’. No matter how big the language barrier between us and the students, there is never a lack of enthusiasm or fun - especially when we remember to take the sticker books!
Three times a week we also teach English to a youth group, where the age ranges from 14-25. Many of these students already have a basic understanding of the language, so it’s a lot easier to communicate with them! Some even speak fluently, so we also take an advanced session, where the conversation can start on the topic of differences between Malagasy and English wildlife and quickly turn into a heated debate about politics - there’s certainly never a dull moment in youth club! A few of the advanced students even get involved in helping us teach the beginners, which definitely provides entertainment - apparently trying to explain what a casserole is in Malagasy wasn't the easiest of tasks for Mayeul. Something that struck me as soon as I met the students, is how big their ambitions are, and their reasons for wanting to learn English. This makes the teaching all the more worthwhile, because it’s so important to them. Over the past 5 weeks I’ve been helping one of the girls, Prisca, translating words that she'd picked out from books that she didn't understand. When I first arrived she’d just applied to University to study medicine, and last week she found out that she had been given a place! Simply knowing that I am helping prepare her for such a big opportunity to become her lifelong dream of a doctor is truly amazing.
Believe it or not there’s also plenty of time for leisure here on Nosy Be! As a community volunteer, I head over to the beach camp, where the mariners and foresters are based in Ambalahonko, every Thursday/Friday, for Friday night PARTY PARTY night! Snorkelling and lunch on Nosy Komba, where we bought classic ‘gap-yah’ Komba Pants, followed by steak night was definitely a highlight for me, although maybe not the midnight, blind dash to the long-drop! Even though I’m not based at camp all the time, everyone has so much fun together and we’ve all become close really quickly! Living in pretty basic conditions really does bring everyone together, even through an extremely heated game of Monsters, or where no one is safe outside their beds in a game of Assassins! Saturday is always an early start to catch the boat back to Hellville, normally at around 6.30 after only a few hours’ sleep! Although running on Malagasy time, it can be at least 8.00 before we actually start to make our way back to town to get some Wi-Fi, chocolate and check in with home!
As always we are keen to go sightseeing; last weekend we headed off to Andilahna Beach, the world’s second best beach…in a Taxi-Broussi! Probably one of the best, funniest, and definitely sweatiest couple of hours I’ve had while I’ve been in Madagascar - 30 people, a couple of babies and a chicken crammed into a 12 seater mini-van, cruising through pot-holes and avoiding zebu at all cost! But for around the equivalent of 50p for just under a two hour journey, I am definitely not complaining! Finally, Saturday nights usually bring copious amounts of singing and dancing in Ambataloka, in local bars, with local people. Taxi-Be has definitely become a regular start to the night, where we have become known, and are always welcomed, for our very talented singing, dancing and playing on stage with the band.
There’s so much more that I could say about being a teaching volunteer in Madagascar. I’m definitely going to be sad when I leave in three weeks, but I will 100% be back one day! I really have never met such genuine and down to earth people as I have here, and I know that the friends I have made will be friends for a very long time!
By Emma Preston - Teaching & Community Volunteer
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