Friday, 12 October 2012


When I'm working with Volunteer Romania, I am as much of an unpaid volunteer as those people who come from all over the world are.
Unfortunately, I get very few chances to actually spend time with the children, my role is more of a support one, running people around, getting materials, doing most of the cooking (not many complaints there I'm pleased to say), etc. So, the chances that I do get are really precious to me, being with all of the children in the various places we work is such a pleasure, always full of smiles. I can't come away from a day when I have been with the children without feeling good, if absolutely dog-tired! (I really do wish children could give energy transplants too!)
The times that I do spend with the children will all stick in my mind forever, whether it be helping to teach English at The Waldorf School or just cuddling a young orphan at the children's home, every one of those times is such a special moment.
When we were asked to help to teach children here English, the first thing we did was ask the children what they would like to know about the UK.....although only a few of the children put their hands up it was a real mistake! The list was enormous! The kids who weren't confident of their English would tell the few who were what they wanted to know and for a short while it was Bedlum!
They wanted to know about all of the different regions in the UK, how 'one' country could be so many 'different' countries, and what the differences were with each.
I said OK that's what we will do, but set off home not really knowing how I could achieve something that seemed like such an enormous task in just five lessons over five weeks, and as soon as I got home started my research to make myself ready. Thank heavens for the world wide web!
We decided that the best thing to do was concentrate on each region separately, so I prepared Powerpoint presentations for each country, starting with Scotland. For each country we did our best to give a clear representation of the different customs, different countryside, different wildlife, different (and joint) histories. With Scotland the kids loved it when I put on my kitchen apron with a kilt on it to show the 'traditional' dress, but of course what they wanted to know most about was The Loch Ness Monster!........."Is it real Steve?"
We carried on talking about Northern Ireland and England itself following much the same subjects, but it was when we got to Wales that it really became fun. I don't know if many of you realize that Prince Charles has homes here in Romania, he loves the country for the same reasons we do. So to the kids he is as much 'Prince Charles of Romania' as he is 'The Prince of Wales' and it gave all the children a sense of being linked up with Wales somehow.
The lessons were a great laugh, and at one point the English teacher accused me of being more of a child than the kids in the class (which I have to admit is true).
The lessons seemed so chaotic to me, and even though I looked forward to each one, I wasn't too sure how much English the children were actually learning, or if they were really of any benefit at all.
When we had finished the initial set of five lessons, we were asked to continue, which I took as an enormous compliment. so, again, we asked the children what they would like to know about. This time when we asked, almost every child in the class put their hands up to ask for something and they all spoke to me in such clear English. It felt fantastic.
I'm not sure that they learnt anything new form us, but I do know that they became more confident in speaking.
Whenever we see any of those same children now, whether it is in town or at the school they all come running up and they talk..........In English!

It's a fantastic feeling.

English is so important, apart form still being the first language in the world in all of it's various forms, it is also the first language of computing, of the internet. having a base knowledge of the language is therefore so important to help these children on their way upwards in the world.

It's  a privilege to be able to assist in a small way with something that is so important, as well as being a real pleasure, and if I can do it, anyone can!    


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