New Zealand, Louise

Louise Worked as a School Assistant in New Zealand

I received a bursary which enabled me to take up my Lattitude placement without putting financial pressure on my parents or the possibility that I would not be able to go and experience what I did.I am so grateful to Lattitude and the funders that enabled my incredible year in New Zealand to take place. I would fully recommend this kind of experience to anybody that has the opportunity.

I worked in a New Zealand girls’ boarding school called Woodford House during my gap year.My main responsibilities were assisting with the intermediate department (10-12 yr olds) in English, Computing and Drama classes. I also helped with Yr 10 maths classes, taking those girls out that needed extra assistance, which I really enjoyed. About twice a week I would also supervise evening prep classes; this left me in total charge of a class of girls, who were sometimes not too willing to do homework!

Out of classes I was responsible for a dance team which I set up, and for whom I organised practices and choreographed a piece for a regional competition. I was also given a volleyball team to coach and accompany to games. I really enjoyed the total responsibility of these jobs.

If there was a residential or field trip organised with the school then I would be taken along as another member of staff whether this was a Social Studies trip to the local court house or a week up in the mountains! All in all a Lattitude volunteer at Woodford becomes a Jack of many trades!

I have learnt so many new skills during my placement including living away from home, which meant handling my own finances, organising my travels and even my own washing! I learnt a lot of administrative skills such as photocopying, making booklets/leaflets, laminating,invoicing, postal orders, which I know will be very useful in future jobs. I also learnt how to work with many people of different ages. Being in close working contact with many teachers, parents and pupils really gave me so much confidence.

Being a volunteer was such a great opportunity. I was able to see a totally different side of the world (literally!)and live and work in it knowing that I had the support of Lattitude if I needed it. I really loved working in the school environment with two other great volunteers whom I got along so well with.The other teachers at the school really looked after me and were always there to help with anything I needed;there was a real community feel about it.

I am due to start at Queen’s University, Belfast in the coming weeks to study an LLB in Law. I was very apprehensive about starting before but since returning from my Gap year I have found a whole new confidence and am now really looking forward to it. I know I am capable of living away from home and have a new self-assurance when dealing with other people. I definitely hope to return to New Zealand one day as I had such an amazing experience and it really was like home to me.