Summer school students

October 31, 2013, by Guest blog

Teaching English in Kyrgyzstan

Post by Amy Byron, (Russian with Serbian/Croatian – 2013 winner of the Partridge Scholarship)

As a student of Russian studies, I am interested in the history of the former USSR and its republics. That is why this year I chose to spend my summer volunteering with NGO Erayim, teaching English in the beautiful setting of Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan is fast developing country and with the help of volunteers, young people are given greater opportunities. Over 150 people were enrolled on the summer course, some of whom had travelled for hours to the school to take up the the opportunity to learn English for free. Students ranged from age nine to young adults.

On arrival I was nervous to say the least; Kyrgyzstan is not for the faint hearted and the country is so far away from anything we are accustomed to. But my host family and the local people soon made me feel at home. Kyrgyz people are undoubtedly the most hospitable I’ve ever met!

Staying with a local family was a great opportunity to practice my Russian, where the older generation spoke no English, but also to experience their culture in trying new foods and learning about their traditions. My host family were very keen to share their country, so free time at weekends was spent exploring Kyrgyzstan. They organised trips to Issyk-Kul Lake, the mountains, national parks, markets and we also visited family members in other regions.

The experience was unique and unforgettable. I am still in touch with my host family and hope to return to visit them. I would recommend the Kyrgyz project to anyone! Growing up in the UK we take education and many other opportunities we have for granted. Through a volunteer project like Erayim we can give something back to a country where such opportunities are not readily available.

Posted in Cultural challengesMaking connectionsReflections on studying/working abroad