Andy Petrochenko – English School Volunteer

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A teacher back in his home country, Andy traveled all the way from Siberia, Russia to volunteer at the Scalabrini English School. He speaks about his time here below. 

“Cape Town is different from and the same as my home city simultaneously. Globalisation has made all big cities look alike, but at the same time, Cape Town has its own mood and pace of life. 

I used to be a lawyer, but then moved into the language sphere as it was much more appealing to me. It was my dream to become a volunteer somewhere overseas, and somewhere in Africa was the perfect destination. I wanted to serve and help people with what I could offer, and it happened that I am an ESL  (English as a Second Language) teacher, so my job at Scalabrini was teaching English.

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“The Scalabrini English School has made me a more sensitive and empathetic teacher. It’s vital not to underestimate the importance of being careful and caring towards your students wherever you teach.”

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Since the first moment of communication, I felt very welcome and cared for. The interview (with Vivienne) went in such a friendly way that my desire to work for Scalabrini grew incredibly. Upon arrival, I got lots of instruction, explanations, orientation days, exciting and educating integration seminars etc.

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All my questions were answered in detail thanks to all the colleagues and especially the manager of the English School, Rhoda. Everyone really helped me with understanding the life and goals of Scalabrini and to align my efforts with them. 

There are so many things that I learnt at Scalabrini, I am still thinking about them. What I can tell is that I saw an incredible example of work discipline and devotion at Scalabrini, from every single person. It was awesome to see how engaged everyone was. I also believe that I learnt a lot about teamwork and atmosphere. Each member of the team tried to contribute his or her share and at the same strives to help their colleagues wherever possible. It was great to be in that kind of environment. Professionally, I definitely feel more experienced now, because I had a chance to see which teaching techniques and strategies worked and did not work in a completely new place. 

The Scalabrini English School has made me a more sensitive and empathetic teacher. It’s vital not to underestimate the importance of being careful and caring towards your students wherever you teach. I also acquired some new ways, tricks and methods to present my material or deal with classroom management, thanks to observing my dear colleagues and the workshops that Rhoda and the University of Cape Town held. 

I think I have two moments that I particularly cherish. The first one was the integration seminar conducted by Diana and Max. We had wonderful conversations about the ethos of Scalabrini as well as on plenty of very important topics. I was really thankful for that chance to be introduced to different ideas and discuss essential issues, to meet the others and to be heard. 

The second moment was the Space Café workshop. I organised it for the learners, basing it on my own experience with my English club back in Russia. Being a conversational event with several open-talk, creative locations, it received a massive response and positive feedback. I really loved how engaged, happy and interested everyone was. 

I have plans for the distant future to volunteer in South America or Asia, but before that I am going to work at a private English school in my home city, Krasnoyarsk for a couple of years. I have a lot of ideas I would like to implement and bring to life, as well as digest everything I learnt and experienced in South Africa.”