Sunday, 25 August 2013

1 Week to go..!

7 days left in England then 12 months in Uganda!
I'm still having trouble getting my head around this fact, it does't yet feel real so I'm sure I will get a shock when I get off the airplane at Entebbe and realise that it is in actual fact, very real!

Not much to say at present really, I have just been very busy getting organised and checking, double checking and triple checking that I have got everything that I need to take with me. I have also spent this last week meeting up with my best friends and spending a last time with them before 12 months away from them. Thankfully it wasn't too emotional saying goodbye to them as rather than them being sad to not see me for 12 months, they were just so excited for me as they have spent the last year watching me fundraise and learning more about Uganda.

So how am I feeling? It varies hugely day to day! Today I'm feeling pretty relaxed about it but yesterday I was massively freaking out - trying to imagine myself teaching classes of 40+. Luckily I was home alone so no one could see me freak out!! Taking away the nervousness and my slight worrying about being a teacher in a couple of weeks, I'm incredibly excited and am happy knowing that I have made the right decision to take a year out to teach and help benefit the younger population of Uganda in their eduction. I am excited about meeting my classes and getting to know them, I am really looking forward to getting to know my 3 Project Partners better but most of all I'm looking forward to experiencing Uganda and the culture it holds as this was one of my main motivations to go to Africa.

I have no intention of sitting on the sideline whilst in Uganda and am fully looking forward to getting involved in any opportunity that presents itself in the teaching aspect and the community aspect.

I do feel prepared for Uganda but really, I'm not quite sure what to expect. Uganda will be the opposite of England in almost every way and having never left Europe or done much travelling, I have no past experiences or knowledge of foreign countries to relate too. However I think this adds to the adventure.

Today is the last Formula 1 Grand Prix I will be able to watch for 12 months... For anyone who knows me well, they will know this is a big deal! Some people like Football, some people like Rugby or Athletics but I am a huge Formula 1 fan and I honestly don't know what I am going to do without it for 12 months. There are many different things that everyone will miss when overseas but for me it is definitely Formula 1! 

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

It's been 1 year!

Wow, this time last year I was on my first day of Selection at Project Trust! Crazy to think what a different path my life has taken since! And now only 19 days until my 12 months in Uganda..!

This one decision to go on the Project Trust Selection Course has hugely shaped my life. The plan was that I was meant to go to Art College straight after Sixth Form but I was just so captured by the talk Project Trust did at my school that I had to at least give Selection a go! For sure, with only 19 days to go I'm having days where I am ridiculously excited and other days where I am getting cold feet but that is just due to nerves! Once we are all out there and I have had a few days getting used to teaching I'm hoping I will be having a fantastic time, getting involved in many things.

Already, before even going overseas to Uganda, I have benefitted so much from being signed up with Project Trust. I have become so much more confident and have gained a lot of skills. I cannot wait to see what I have learnt next year.

It is a scary thought what I am about to do but I have been talking to a past Ugandan volunteer who has been so helpful and answering all my silly questions! Talking about it has made me nervous but excited.

If anybody wants to write, the post doesn't go to where I live so I have to pick it up whenever I visit Fort Portal (which I will occasionally!)

So the address to use is:

Bella Watson
Villa Maria,
PO Box 214,
Fort Portal,

I cannot promise that post will get to me, apparently the Ugandan post system is pretty unreliable! However if I do receive post I will make an effort to write back, I just don't know how often I will be able to get access into Fort Portal.

Talk soon!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Training. 20th-24th July.

We decided that company was better than
comfort and all squished onto the floor to talk

on the train!
Starting my travels on the 19th July at the exotic Peterborough station at 12:15pm, I arrived in Oban at about 9:40pm having been travelling for 9 hours on various trains. I shall gladly tell you that the journey was great fun as I had company from my very first train. 2 girls were also heading to Project Trust then we met many, many more volunteers at Glasgow and we all travelled together and got to know each other, sharing our fundraising stories and what projects we will be doing. Unlike Selection, I had not lost my voice so I was very much enjoying doing a lot of the talking!

An uncomfortably early start on the 20th July was at 4:45am. The dorm I was in at the youth hostel was full of all Project Trust volunteers so we struggled together to get up in good time to the ferry as annoyingly for us, this same day was the Tiree Music Festival so the ferry was very busy.

As we arrived to the ferry port my sleepiness suddenly vanished (sort of) as I saw waiting by the door my friend Jessica from Selection. We have kept in touch all year and were so excited to see each other again. However it was soon discovered that I had a lot to prove as she discovered I have never seen the Disney Lion King film and apparently that is a big crime. So I will try and watch it before I leave..!

Me and Jessica!
After a healthy breakfast on the ferry of Milkyways, a blueberry muffin and a kitkat we approached the Isle of Coll. It was a fantastic feeling seeing Coll again and as we departed the ferry, in the distance I could see the Project Trust mini buses, the blue land rover and some familiar faces of the Project Trust staff! The weather was beautiful too.

One thing I had forgotten about Coll was the very bumpy roads and the mini buses have very bouncy seats so it was like being on a trampoline all the way to the Project Trust Hebridean Centre! Once we had all arrived we collected our bags and went to our allocated dorms - we were placed with our Project Partners. I thought I was going with 2 other girls then Jodie came in and introduced herself so we are now a happy 4.

After a warm welcome things got serious. We were given our timetables (I thought Selection was a big timetable! This one managed to fit in about 6 more sessions than last time.) Rather than writing everything we did I thought I would put up my timetable so you can see the topics we discuss and learnt about. As you can see Project Trust cover EVERYTHING so we have all left Coll feeling very prepared and a lot more confident than we did on arrival. We also spent a lot of our week with our amazing Desk Officer (person in charge of our country group) Jen. She is so lovely and we made her a card when we left, it wasn't very good but she liked it!!

After we had completed our first day, we had some free time so we all went down to the beach. It was so beautiful, I felt like I was in a different country. Some brave people went into the sea, I went up to my ankle and decided it was FAR to cold! So I sat on the sand dune and got to know Lauren and Jodie better and talking to loads of other people - Steph, my other Project Partner was somehow enjoying herself in the sea.
On the way to the beach.

Dominican Republic volunteers.
The beach on Coll.

The second day was very much focused on learning how to teach. I am teaching Upper Primary and Lower Secondary. My brain is definitely a lot more full than it was before I went to Coll, as I said, they literally cover every aspect.

What is also very exciting is that this is the first year that Project Trust have managed to secure a qualification for us to show what we have been doing and that we haven't just been sunbathing on a beach all year. After my year is complete and I go to my Debriefing on Coll I will get a Level 3 Foundation Year in Global Volunteering and Citizenship. Already we have had to fill out lots of paper work!

On Monday we had to teach a ten minute lesson using all of the skills we had learnt in the two previous days. I taught my lesson on the spiritualism of African masks. I think my lesson went well but there were definitely things that I needed to do to improve but that is why we did a ten minute lesson - to get us focused for our twenty minute lesson the next day.

I spend a very quiet evening in my room on the bunk bed planning my twenty minute lesson. It took me a very long time as I find it difficult to think of activities to support my lesson which is essential to have planned when you are teaching younger children. However after a few hours I had my lesson planned and activities made and felt a lot more confident. I did my lesson on nouns, adjectives and verbs but my class who are my age (18) had to pretend to be Primary children as that is the age I planned my lesson for. This lesson went a lot smoother and I got good feedback and from starting the week with no idea how I should teach I can say I am a lot more confident now. 

To end our amazing time on Coll with Project Trust we had the traditional Ceilidh dance. Jessica who is Scottish was very helpful and managed to get me looking half decent at the dances which I did seem to be better at compared to Selection! It was such a fun evening and an amazing way to finish off.

Honestly, my Uganda group are all such crazy, enthusiastic people. I cannot wait to see them all again in just ONE MONTH at the airport and we shall all meet up when we have the school holidays in Uganda. As for my Project Partners, I do not know them well yet but we have a whole year to get to know each other and from the few days I spent with them, we had a lot of laughs.

Our Ugandan country group. Volunteers 2013/2014.