A volunteer interview with Christina on her role as a school assistant at her boarding school placement in the UK.
How was the preparation support you received from Lattitude before your departure?
Lattitude aided with filling out the visa application as well as any information needed about the country and the program with the information package. I was unable to attend the briefing in-person as I had a prior work commitment; however, they provided me with all the information that was given at the event.
How did you find the in-country orientation?
I found the in-country orientation really helpful. Not only was I able to meet the other volunteers, but I was also able to set up my bank account and phone number which would be a pain to do on my own.
On arrival at your placement, did your host/mentor give you an induction or training?
Yes, my mentor came to pick me up along with another Gap Yearstudent at the train station. They set me up in my room and gave me a general introduction to the job and school. They also provided me with dinner as the school was not in session.
What was the accommodation like at your placement?
I had my own individual room equipped with a full bathroom. There was mini kitchenette as well. During the school term, food was provided.
What was the high point of your placement?
The high point would have to be the friendships I made during my placement. I was able to build strong bonds with those that I worked with. By meeting such amazing people, I was able to learn a lot about myself and the world around me.
What was the toughest part of your placement?
The toughest part would be the number of hours I worked. Since my day started around 7:30am and ended around 10pm due to the school being a boarding school, my days were incredibly long. For the most part, I didn’t feel burnt out as there were plenty of term breaks during which I went travelling.
Do you have any advice you would offer to future volunteers at your placement?
My piece of advice is that you will only get out of the placement with what you put in. If you only put in 30%, you will only get back 30% so you must put in your all to gain the most out of this experience. There is a lot to be gained from this program, but only if you put in the effort.
Do you feel you made a difference at your placement?
I believe that I fully immersed myself into my placement allowing me to make a difference. I built genuine connections with the children and staff that made me feel like I was able to make a difference. Not only was I able to teach the children different things from our culture, but they also taught me a lot about their culture.
How do you feel now that you’re home?
I built a sense of gratitude for Vancouver. Before leaving, I couldn’t wait to leave. I guess it is that feeling of wanting what you can’t have… I also felt like I could take on anything – if I can move half way across the world then I can do anything!
What have you been up to since your return?
I graduated university with a Bachelor’s degree and now I am moving to Japan in the new year. I have volunteered with Lattitude in the pre-departure meetings as a past volunteer representing the UK as well.