If I had visited a fortune teller a year ago who had predicted that before the end of 2013 I would have walked away from my hard-fought for career to train to become an English language teacher, I would have laughed in their face and asked for my money back. Yet, here I am, volunteering as an English support teacher at a YWCA funded kindergarten in Kowloon one morning a week, as well as preparing for my CertTESOL course starting in January.
I have surprised myself at just how much I am enjoying my Wednesday mornings at Faith Hope Nursery School (if you click on the link you can watch a short video filmed in the school). Each week for three hours I have had the opportunity to unleash my inner thespian. To the wide-eyed astonishment and amusement of the children I morph unabashed from a lion, to a monkey, to a rabbit - roaring, simultaneously scratching my head and tummy, and twitching my nose. I delight as they mimic my exaggerated facial expressions to illustrate 'toothache'. I see their eyes widen with pleasure as they are able to point to their knees and their feet when asked, and I love how they remember the shoulder-shrugging dance I have taught them when I ask them where their shoulders are. Singing 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' has more relevance and appeal when you know you have taught the children those words and they understand them. Each Wednesday I leave the kindergarten with a broad smile on my face and a warm sense of accomplishment. After I have received formal teacher training, I know I will be able to make a greater difference - right now, I am only scratching the surface.
Every week I return to Faith Hope Nursery School the children come further out of their shells. When on day one some of the children averted their eyes and hid behind their parents legs as I arrived at the school, I am now greeted by a chorus of 'Good morning' and 'Hello Adrienne'. The children have mastered my mouthful of a name quicker than many native English speakers I have met in my lifetime! Each week I have managed to engage more of the children in each class, and today I was thrilled to get a number of the previously mute children speaking English. My spontaneous tactic of getting the classes to high-five me as they said goodbye last week appears to have established a little bond between us all. This week, many of them demanded an upgrade to a goodbye hug!
As I went and said goodbye to the headteacher today, she asked if I would be able to return to the school after Christmas - apparently they like me and think I am doing a good job. As I will be studying full-time in January and then need to find paid employment, I have reluctantly had to say that I am unable to commit. However, she did say that there may be a possibility of paid part-time work next year, so I will keep in touch once my volunteering finishes in December. I would love to be able to carry on at Faith Hope Nursery School - working there is genuinely the most rewarding thing I have done in 41 years. I hope the children are getting as much out of it as I am.