Ellen Whitehouse on her imminent trip to Zambia

Ellen Whitehouse was awarded a Footprinter Grant in May for her volunteer trip to Zambia.  She will be teaching maths, computing and science at a school in Petauke, which is in the east of the country.  

map of Zambia

Ellen Whitehouse is heading to Petauke, eastern Zambia

I decided to take a gap year before university after my school trip in 2018 to Kenya. A group of my peers and I had raised a significant amount of money to take out to the school we were working with, and when I saw the great use it went to, providing school equipment etc. to children in need, it spurred me to want to do more.

Throughout my life, I have always striven to help others to ensure equal opportunities, whether that be as a hockey coach, volunteering at Oaklands Special needs school or this year as school captain. Therefore, when researching possible opportunities, Project Trust matched my needs as it provided an opportunity for me to help others whilst growing myself.

Thoughts on Petauke

At the start of September, I will be travelling to Petauke, in eastern Zambia. The climate in Zambia is somewhat different to Scotland!! The average temperature is much hotter though there is a monsoon season (so it will still feel like home with the rain!).

I will be staying at Petauke Secondary Boarding School for a whole year. The school is situated 20 minutes from Petauke, a village 400km away for Lusaka (the capital city). My role is as a math teacher. I have been told that I will also be helping out with computing and the sciences. I am very excited to pass on my knowledge and even though I am nervous about teaching I am sure it will massively help my confidence. Along with academics, I also have the chance to start and help out with the extra-curricular activities the school offers. I am a keen musician and sportsperson so thoroughly look forward to these clubs.

Settling in to a new culture

I know that the year ahead will be anything but easy: being away from my family for so long, living in a new culture, gaining the respect from my students. Though I am sure what I will get out of it – new confidence, independence, organisation – will be much greater than these negatives. I am looking forward to immersing myself in the Zambian culture and finding out the similarities and differences between mine back here in the UK. Due to the country being religious, its regulations on clothes may be much different to that of the UK. This, wearing longer clothes etc. may be a struggle due to the temperatures but I would like to respect their culture.

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