Emily Gorman: Initial report

I have come to the realisation after 8 months of fundraising that the majority of responses I get when I tell people of my “Gap year” fall into 4 categories…

No. 1) “Guyana? Is that African?”

No. 2) “That sounds amazing, well done, when do you leave then?”

No. 3) *Anxious glare* “Good luck with that! You’ll need all the luck you can get!”

No. 4) “O… well what do your parents think of that?”

I know what you’re thinking. Some of these responses could be deemed as negative or disheartening but to me they’ve all been a positive influence towards my fundraising and preparation for my year out. All these responses (and the endless list of other responses I could share with you) all make me question myself… “Why am I finishing school at 17 and going to live in the rainforest where I have no shower, have to bathe in the river, hand wash ALL my clothes and live not only with another volunteer (who is practically a stranger until we start living together) but with an infestation of cockroaches and spiders? Why am I not staying home in my nice warm, care free, comfortable life style and having an easy transition from secondary school to university?” Boy, do I ask myself this often. Although, admittedly, continuously questioning my motives behind all this ignites my enthusiasm once again, so let me tell you a little bit about myself and my project.

I’m a born and bred Glaswegian and this is my report for HFT keeping you all up to date with my happenings. (Hopefully it’ll be a bit interesting, apologies if it isn’t. But, all I’m saying is… you’ve been warned. )

Where to begin…

Throughout my life I have been fortunate enough to see different places, experience new foods and understand other cultures as part of family holidays. Travelling has always been something I have looked forward too. But my first travelling experience that was slightly different from the other holidays happened in June 2010 when I spent 2 weeks in Malawi doing work in a small community. The experience was unbelievable so I wanted more than just 2 weeks, like Malawi, I wanted months (didn’t quite imagine it’d be a whole year!) to really help and integrate into a different community.

I am preparing myself to travel to Guyana, South America in August 2011 (25th of August to be exact). I shall be doing 12 months voluntary work with an organisation called Project Trust. Guyana is a state of the northern coast of South America and is famously known as “The Land of Many Waters”. It has fascinating wildlife being one of the countries with the highest biodiversity in the world! (I may seem geeky but this genuinely excites me!) And more than 80% of Guyana is still covered by forests. Guyana is home to the Jaguar, famous for cricket, land of Kaieteur Falls – the world’s largest single drop waterfall by volume and – from what I’ve heard from past volunteers – so much more. There is a sense of mystery to Guyana due to the lack of tourism which makes the country even more intriguing and makes me even more excited!

I shall be living in an Amerindian community in the heart of Guyana’s rainforest. A little community called Paramakatoi. Which I have been told is mostly called PK by just about everyone so… PK it is. During my year I will be teaching maths, science and English to secondary school children. Project Trust informed me that the pupils I’m teaching could range from 13 to 20 years old! So I could be teaching someone 3 years old than me (Yikes! How funny?). None the less, I couldn’t be more excited about getting my teeth stuck into this teaching and letting my imagination run wild on how to engage children of all ages and abilities.

My thoughts right now…Honestly? Anxious. Very VERY anxious. I have even had cold sores from the anxiety levels I am feeling. It’s just one of these circumstances where it does not matter if you’re the calmest person in the world I reckon you’d still be a little bit anxious. Like me. Even the structure of this report is so muddled up due to how muddled my head is right now with me running around trying to get everything completed. It seems every evening and morning I run through my head of “my to do check list” that’s imbedded in my brain and has been for several months. Visa’s: check. Fundraising: check. Travel books: check. Jags: check. Teaching material: check… And so the list seems endless.

The best way to describe my emotions this last month is bi-polar. The emotional journey you take with not just yourself but everyone around you who cares for you can be quite exhausting with such an intense project and preparation required. I have found myself at times just wanting to chuck it all, forget that I ever even had the idea. But I honestly feel that I do have skills that are useful abroad and that I will make a difference to at least one person’s life (But hopefully a few more).

With 6 days until I depart, as I have been writing this report I have been interrupted 4 times by my parents reminding me “You must get this done” “you must do that” “when will I have time to complete this”. So… I best be going. I hope I can provide very interesting future reports from Guyana and that you will continue to read them, as it is my pleasure to write them.

All the best,

Emily