Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteers from overseas and from within Sri Lanka have been offering their services as teachers and coaches etc at Guru from the very beginning.

More recently there was a volunteer teacher from Canada, Ms Shirley Newel and another who came to us through the USPG Mr Tom Wilkinson both of whom had a very positive influence on the community.

In 2007 there was a volunteer from Holland of Sri Lankan extraction, Ms Jayani Masthoff, who volunteered as Matron of the primary and the girls’ dormitories.

In 2009 Bro Michael Grace TSSF came to us as Lay Chaplain from York but had to return to the UK after only one term due to ill health. Simultaneously we had two volunteers from Scotland and three from Dr Hayman’s alma mater Sherborne School in the UK.

Volunteers are welcome to come and work at Guru and can contribute in many ways not least of all the teaching of English both inside and outside the classroom. Young volunteers can also be a great asset on the playing field and in the supervision of dormitories and extra curricular activities.

Volunteers to assist the Chaplaincy team would also be very welcome especially if they possess counselling training.

While the School cannot pay volunteers, who by definition, offer their services voluntarily, we are able to offer modest accomodation and meals for the duration of the stay.

The ideal duration for a volunteers is one year. But those who are able to come for a Term or two terms would also be welcome. Shorter durations, while, acceptable will not be of much long term value as once the volunteer has just begun to be accepted in the community s/he will be leaving.

For further information on volunteer opportunities please contact the Headmaster.

VOLUNTARY TEACHING AT S. THOMAS’ COLLEGE GURUTALAWA

I am one of three volunteers from Britain who have spent some time working at St. Thomas’ College, Guratalwa. We have been working in the primary school (Keble) assisting Mrs Anandappa, the English Teacher, and Mrs Serasinhe the Grade 1 teacher. During the school day we split ourselves between any English lesson that was taking place and helping out in Grade One. This meant singing songs in English, preparing activities for classes and talking to the students. Many of them found it difficult to understand our accents at first, but they soon got used to us. We also looked at written work, making corrections and trying to improve handwriting. If we had a free lesson, we could correct books or relax.

After school we helped with the extra tuition – elocution and “Active English” and then were free for the day (unless of course there were still more books to correct). We agreed with the boys that if we were sitting on our porch, they could come and talk to us or get help with their English homework. This meant we had visitors of all ages, full of questions about life in Britain and how we ended up in rural Sri Lanka. After a few weeks I started making some of the less able students come and see me before prep for about 30 minutes, to work on their weaknesses. We also played badminton and basketball with the boys (who were very nice about my lack of ability and general unfitness). Volunteers with talents for cricket, rugby or hockey could assist the coaches during after school practices.

After dinner (with the Keble boys, same as lunch and breakfast, unless we wanted to cook for ourselves or were invited out) we could lock the door and read or write letters to people back home.

The weekends, apart from Saturday morning Elocution, preparing for exams, were ours to spend as we wished. Thanks to various invitations, I saw a working Tea Factory, the view from Haputale (said to rival the more exotically named World’s End), a Kovil, Badulla and Bandarawela. I also had delicious meals at many different houses, where my hosts worried far too much that things would be too hot for me. On Sundays there is a service in the Chapel (if you wanted to go) and the boys often go for walks in the evening, so we could see the beautiful countryside that surrounds the school.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the boys, the staff, the Old Boys and even some of the parents who would stop and talk to me after collecting their children from school. I have lots of new pen pals and friends, so I would like to thank everyone for helping to make my time in Sri Lanka so memorable, and I hope that more volunteers will follow us, the pioneers, in the future.

Elizabeth Searle