Global Volunteer Jedd Waason said a desire to help others led him to the Cook Islands with Global Volunteers. What he gained, he said, was a clearer focus on a career in education. Read on to learn how his teaching assignment became a glimpse into his future.
My volunteer trip to the Cook Islands was an incredible self-discovery. I worked at a K-8 school close to where we were staying, called Apii Avarua. I served with two other volunteer teachers with about 30 students in each grade. Each day was an adventure for me – helping kids study, giving them suggestions for their assignments and even leading some classroom discussions. Each day was different. Sometimes the three of us were together in a class, and other times, we served in separate classrooms for the day.
I primarily was a teacher aid. I spent about half of my two weeks with the same 5th grade class, so by the end I was able to learn a few names and form some relationships. At lunchtime, we would go out and play soccer with the kids, which was really fun.
Jedd’s other six teammates had tutoring assignments at other nearby schools. In the evening, they’d gather to discuss their day, and trade teaching tips and ideas. “We had a library of books, supplies and other classroom tools at our hotel, so we were able to try lessons that previous volunteers had tried.”
More than anything he taught, he said, he learned from the students about the cohesiveness of the community – how everyone helps each other and holds similar values. “Generosity and compassion are two of their top values,” he said.
For instance, he said, “At the end of the second week, the school had a fundraiser to help build a cover for their basketball court. All the families brought food and games for everyone to enjoy. I was amazed at how much of the community came to support!”
Before I left home, my goal was to help those in a community different than mine, and to experience the culture. I’ve always been attracted to the South Pacific and teaching younger children, so this program matched my interests. Before attending college, I’ve been pursuing various career interests. Education was one of mine. My volunteer program in the Cook Islands gave me a insight into the field and helped me further develop my career path. I discovered I like teaching children, and am extremely grateful to be part of their lives in a tropical paradise!