|Jessica||2010||St Joseph’s Primary School, Leauva’a||Samoa|
Describe the work you did during your placement:
While on placement I lived with the Salesian Sisters and worked at St Joseph’s primary school, Leauva’a. My main role was to teach English at the primary school and to assist with other duties within the school such as running the canteen and supporting teachers. After school my role changed from assisting in the school to assisting with activities in the Parish. I taught a ballet class and assisted with the sporting activities on the Parish field every afternoon. Each day of the week was full and I shared my time between the school with the Sisters and the Parish with the Leauva’a youth.
Describe some of the best and most challenging aspects of your placement:
By far the best part of my placement was getting to know the place and people of Samoa. I developed an absolute love for the place and feel truly blessed to be able to experience the culture and meet such beautiful, welcoming and special people. The best part of my placement was the relationships I developed with the youth in the village, the students at the school and the Sisters that I lived with. I was very lucky to have made such great connections with these people as it has made returning to Samoa in 2011 and 2012 extra special.
By far the most challenging aspect of my placement was returning home. I was sad to leave behind a life I had created in Samoa and the prospect of returning home was very daunting. I overcame this challenge by promising myself that I would stay connected to Samoa and the people I had met on my experience. This promise I have been able to maintain. Another challenge that was also a highlight was living in community with the Sisters. It was a challenge because I was not used to living in routine as the Sisters did and had to adjust my personal habits to suit this. In saying this, the challenge of living with women whom I hadn’t known before was quite amazing and the way I was welcomed into their community was like nothing I had ever experienced before.
Explain how your volunteer experience impacts your life today:
Since I have returned from my volunteer placement I have continued to work in school as a teacher. I have stayed in contact with the Sisters at the school and continued to support them in any way I can from Australia. My family has also been able to support the school community of St Joseph’s. Since returning from Perth to Melbourne I have become involved with the Salesians once again. I worked with the Cagliero Project for 3 years and really loved my time with the program. I also taught at a Catholic Primary school. I was also lucky enough to assist in running two immersion programs, one to Samoa and one to Cambodia. I am now living and working as a teacher in Singapore.