By Jenna Capelle
Recent English Education graduate Joanna Pace has been volunteering as an English teacher in Namibia, Africa.
Last spring, Pace said she discovered a few things about herself. She knew she wanted to learn about a different culture, to experience something new and to step out of her comfort zone. She decided she wanted to volunteer after graduation, and a Google search lead her to the WorldTeach program.
“WorldTeach is a non-profit, non-governmental organization based at Harvard University that provides opportunities for volunteers to make meaningful contributions to education in developing countries,” said Pace.
Pace started making a list of everything that she’s learned from her time in Namibia, and it’s already pages long. She said that this experience, without a doubt, has made an impact on her life. For one, she’s learned how to relate and connect with the children in the schools.
“I’ve learned that, no matter where you go, people are people and kids are kids,” said Pace. “The same things that make kids laugh in the states make kids laugh here. And the same things that make people cry at home bring tears in Africa.”
Pace has figured out how to conduct herself in a classroom that’s not structured like those in the United States. The classrooms are less formal and her patience is continuously tested by “African Time,” which can be a good or bad thing, said Pace. She’s learned that electricity is not a necessity, whereas water is. Nonetheless, she’s gained a new perspective on the relationship between happiness and money, and they’re loosely tied.
Once Pace returns home in April, she aspires to land an English teching position in a Minnesota or Wisconsin high school. However, she doesn’t regret her decision to volunteer in Namibia.
“If you’re considering it, I would definitely say just do it,” said Pace. “Volunteering in a developing country can change your life.”
For more information about the WorldTeach program, which offers volunteer opportunities in other countries such as Bangladesh, Chile, China, Panama, Tanzania and Thailand, visit www.worldteach.org.