I grew up in a small community south of Perth, in Western Australia and if there's one thing a country upbringing teaches you, it's the strength that comes from giving back to and being part of an active community.
The name of the Trust that holds my business is actually a word that means 'of service' in Swedish: Tjanare. Why it's Swedish is a WHOLE OTHER STORY you might hear me tell you one day 🙂
I've worked in all corners of the globe and have seen what a relatively small amount of 'Giving Back' can do to a community who otherwise wouldn't have access to any outside help, so I decided to build it into my business model.
Enter my annual commitment to Giving Back: my way of helping out at least one community every year. I also believe in fostering relationships with other organisations that 'speak our language' and I help a few different Partners and Affiliates as you'll see below.
Every year, I knock on the doors of schools in communities that don't have access to governments who can provide them with excellent teacher training and professional development programs (like ours does in Australia). It's my way of “paying it forward” by volunteering my time and skills to a community in need of teacher training, curriculum development, or whatever their specific skill set entails.
Some of the proceeds from The Library also go towards these projects, providing much needed resources to teachers who otherwise wouldn't have them. If you would like to join me on these experiences or donate to the cause (schools are always in need of basic school supplies), please contact me and let me know how you can help.
Kiribati School for the Disabled.
It all started here, in Kiribati. In 2011 and 2012, after not having much luck finding any portable (and customs friendly) souvenirs to take home, I decided to make some with the photos that I'd taken since being on the island. The calendars were so popular (the other 400 expats were having the same problem), that I decided to mass produce them and give all proceeds to the local School for the Disabled which at the time, was not receiving funding from any government or aid organisation.
Instead of donating money, I teamed up with Tuli Stacey and Ann Clark, who at the time were the Australia volunteer teachers assigned to the school to help train the teachers of the deaf and blind students.
With their help, we choose a range of graded readers, audio discs and teachers books for the school, so that the teachers could learn how to use resources suitable for multi level classrooms. Ann created Braille versions of the books for the blind students, and Tuli helped the students create acted out 'sign' versions of the books for those who had hearing impairments.
The project was so successful we raised over $8000 over two years, and along with it, a very happy tribe of teachers, support staff and students who had a new library of resources that suited many different needs 🙂
Prima Santhi School: Ubud, Bali.
Teacher training and demonstration teaching for a small home grown school started by an ex-politician whose passion to teach English drew him away from a life in politics, and into a heartfelt school which has grown from his living room, into 4 classrooms and over 400 students.
I had two sessions with the staff, where I took them through a way of looking at the tenses in English on a simple grid. Bahasa Indonesia doesn't really have tenses, so being able to see how they all relate to one another visually helps them explain the differences to the students much easier.
We also had a session on creating activities out of thin air, with a few simple ideas that can be adapted into many different language learning opportunities. A friend of mine joined me for the 4th visit, where we got the whole school together for a spelling and vocabulary competition. We needed a long cool drink after that balmy evening!
Vaiala Beach School: Vailima Village.
While on a working holiday in Samoa, looking after the children of a friend I met while working in Kiribati, I had the opportunity to deliver a fun, interactive workshop at a Primary School high on a hill, near the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial. Great views, awesome teachers, we had a ball learning how to incorporate communicative, fun teaching and learning activities into everyday lessons.
We learnt by doing - so yes, they had to pretend they were the students - go Team PawPaw for taking out the winning prize! The teachers let me know they'd started implementing them the following day and were met with resounding enthusiasm from the students - I also got the full, animated story from the kids that night so overall - I think we can say that was a success!
National University of Samoa.
I had exactly one hour to convince the Education, Science and IT Faculties of the National University of Samoa that there in fact WAS a way to make boring lectures interactive and engaging, and subjects like Chemistry fun, inspiring and motivating.
There were lots of laughs and in the final activity they agreed that yes, it was in fact possible and that they'd be applying some of the ideas they'd seen demonstrated in the workshop into their classes next term. Nothing like ending a workshop with laughing, joking and general merry making! Pacific islanders are a HOOT and this lively bunch were no exception!
Paying if Forward 2016 was supposed to be in April 2016, in Myanmar but due to a complete oversight and lack of planning on my part, I was deported on arrival due to having the incorrect visa. #lessonlearned
So what to do instead?
Well, Talofa (hallo) Samoa! Yes, this awesome country was again the recipient of my annual Giving Back pledge. On the back of a Conference Keynote and 3 days of workshops, I added a fourth, complimentary day of workshops for all and any teachers or principals who wanted to attend, on Demystifying English Grammar and Tenses.
I was pleasantly surprised to see 80+ teaching staff turn up, during their holidays, to nut out the complexities of the English language and walk away with over AU$200 in donated resources and prizes. The Samoan people are an absolute hoot to work with, and this day was no exception. Faafetai (thank you) Samoa, for a phenomenal week - and I hope to be working with you again in the future!
I am very proud to support three fantastic organisations: WATESOL, Australian Volunteers International and Roooar.com.au!
WATESOL is the state industry association in Western Australia that advocates for students and teachers of TESOL and English as a Second Language or Dialect (ESL/D).
I volunteered my time as the Vice President of this association from 2014-2016, and during that time helped WATESOL migrate to a fully digital membership system and online communication system. I was the MC at the international conference that we hosted in 2016, and also donated the Digest of the news, discussions, events and articles that are current in the world of TESOL and ESL/D, which is still part of the current membership benefits. I currently volunteer my time as a member of the General Committee.
Numerous EFL teaching/training opportunities currently available with AVI in a range of educational settings in exciting and challenging overseas locations:
ROOOAR is a digital hub dedicated to female entrepreneurs and women in business. I'm very proud to be a member and to support their cause. Check out their free magazine and my profile page here.