“What’s stopping you? That’s right, nothing”. These words were my thoughts before participation in European Solidarity Corps (ESC), a part of which I wanted to be for a long time.
My name is Alina. I’m from Russia, Siberia. My homeland Tuva republic borders on Mongolia and it is far enough from Estonia. Despite this, I chose Tallinn for my voluntary service.
I can say that Estonia indeed attracted me with the digital environment and the modern education system. I had heard about advanced educational solutions in Estonia earlier and I wanted to see how it works. My choice fell on Tallinna Südalinna Kool because I was impressed with the school description and I had a past experience as a teacher. Before I worked with children in Russian schools where I taught German and English and I was ready to learn new things from foreign colleagues.
I’m often asked what I do. Volunteering is, first of all, free assistance, but not only. You are also a part of the international community and the mutual exchange of cultural experiences. In addition, you work in new conditions and discover yourself in a new role.
So, my voluntary service is in Kogupäevakool. It is a long-day school where children come after their lessons. I work as an assistant and help the main teacher. My responsibilities are to keep an eye on children outside, to lead my hobby group and to have information when each of children comes and leaves. Also, my tasks include help with events organization and our room cleaning at the end of the day. Time usually flies because approximately 100 children come to us every day. Days are really busy, but exciting as well. In fact, when you work with children, not only you teach them, but they also teach you.
The biggest challenge for me is Estonian. Unfortunately, there aren’t any language courses for people from Russia and I learn it online on my own. At first, children and I understood each other not so well, but then we managed nevertheless. The basic Estonian phrases I know and English help us. Sometimes the children themselves teach me Estonian words. Moreover, nobody has canceled sign language.
I like that I have an opportunity to share my culture and language at Russian culture club. I lead it once a week and tell about my country. Here children can see videos about Russia, find out city life more, play games and taste Russian food. Furthermore, we learn Russian by practicing dialogues and find the culture and language differences and similarities.
I love children and I would like to continue to teach. Some teaching methods in Tallinna Südalinna Kool attracted me especially. For example, it is necessary to talk with children calmly without raising your voice. In my opinion, this approach has a positive effect on discipline and respectful attitude to each other. Additionally, all Estonian schools use the web application eKool. I think the digital form is the best way to organize all the information necessary for teaching and learning nowadays.
It is important to note that there are some restrictions at school as a prohibition of using phones. At the same time the school gives freedom to children. For instance, they can play table football or tennis in the corridor at a break. Also, I was really impressed with the number of hobby groups and modern technologies that are used in the school. I have not seen anything like that before.
In Tallinna Südalinna Kool I got a new professional experience and many warm memories. I really appreciate this experience and support provided by my tutors, colleagues and the headmaster. I hope the school will continue to invite volunteers. I do believe that it is a great opportunity for volunteers, children and teachers to exchange knowledge about culture and education and teach each other new things.
This project has been funded by Archimedes Foundation Youth Agency with support from the European Commission Solidarity Corps programme.