Buryatia Experience Part 2: Teaching the children

The aim of the volunteering project was to teach something to the children in the 2 villages. We were free to choose our subject and teaching method, and once we were there, we soon realized that we had to be VERY flexible. Due to numerous festivals and other activities, the days of actual teaching were numbered, but even outside school we had the chance to be in contact with the kids (swimming in the river for example) so I guess this also counted a bit as “teaching”, as most of these children never had been in contact with foreigners.
Our subjects were: English (Kate), Judo (Juergen), Journalism (Ayuna), Children’s rights (Miguel), Health (me). The “improvised” subjects were: aerobics (Miguel), games (everybody…).
Ok, there were not as many children as I somehow expected. But those who were there were very motivated. I rarely saw children as open and curious as them. Of course it was easy to spot the brighter ones…. some were able to speak some simple english, or at least to communicate with non-verbal means. They were eager to participate in the painting (for the English class and my health class). On our last day in Mihailovka we organised a treasure hunt, which was very successful. Afterwards, we had a big autograph session, as all the kids wanted our signatures and e-mail addresses.
In the second village, Yengorboy, the children seemed a bit younger and less concentrated for sit-down activities, but it was still fun and we just did a bit more games with them.
I think just the fact that they saw some foreigners for the first time in their life made some of them realize the importance of learning english and going to school and on to higher education, and that other countries exist not only on the world map but also in reality.
We also learned a lot, about their everyday life and culture, and also that there are still very motivated children in the world who are not spoiled by computer games and TV.