Applications for LE Mauritius summer 2018 will reopen next fall!
Volunteers stay in the same village for the duration of teaching (about 4 weeks). LE is placed in one of four villages, all of which are on the West coast of the island. One is urban (Bambous), one is rural (Case Noyale), and the other two can be described as suburban or small towns (Albion and Flic en Flac); however, the terms “urban” and “rural” for an island as small as Mauritius are different in comparison to such terms in the US. For example, Bambous has a population around 13,000 people. Mauritius is a small island with good public buses and taxis. It is easy to get from your village to larger cities such as Quatre Bornes or the capital, Port-Louis; no drive by bus takes longer than 2 1/2 hours. You will not be too far from other volunteers and will likely be able to see them often if you desire, though some villages are closer than others.
Learning Enterprises advises volunteers to come to the program with a purpose much deeper than simply teaching English in a rural village on a beautiful tropical island. There is so much to be gained from this experience if you go in with questions, with a desire to really explore and understand and grow, and a real spirit of volunteerism. For past Mauritius volunteers, previous beliefs and ideas about government, education, religion, and family were transformed because of their time in Mauritius. Past Mauritius volunteers have also found that volunteering is not only a way of engaging with their community, but a way to completely rounding out their experience. Learning Enterprises seeks to find a group of inquisitive, motivated, and informed volunteers for Mauritius 2017; volunteers who will not shy away but embrace this cultural exchange and allow it to change them in a positive way.
The Mauritius Program for the summer of 2017 will emphasize service both inside and outside the classroom. Each volunteer should come to the island with a drive to help serve their community, family, and students on a daily basis: including holding one-on-one lessons with a student who needs extra assistance, helping out in the family garden, and participating in any activities put on by the community.
Moreover, each volunteer will create his or her own project that will help the community in some way. This includes planning, organizing, and implementing an idea during the 4 weeks of teaching. Many volunteers have chosen to provide extra tutoring, lessons in other subjects than English, and create an extracurricular sports club. This summer, Learning Enterprises is looking for innovative volunteers who will take advantage of this extra requirement to impact the community outside of the classroom.
In his or her villages, a volunteer will live with a Mauritian family. Typically, a normal Mauritian household will have indoor plumbing, TV, and possibly Internet. Volunteers will either stay in a single room or share a room with a host sibling. Mauritians are known for their warmth and hospitality and are very excited to make you a part of their village and family. Volunteers always are invited to birthdays, weddings, sporting events, and religious services with their families. Mauritians are generally quite religious, and if your family is particularly religious, it is a great opportunity to learn more about the customs and culture of Mauritius.
Mauritians take the responsibility of being host families very seriously, and it is not uncommon for rules regarding safety and curfews to be implemented in the house. Remember that our families are looking out for the best interest of our volunteers; they are experts on what is and is not safe or appropriate in their country. Additionally host families will try to accommodate the need of a volunteer, provided that they are not too demanding.
The native language of Mauritius is Creole, but nearly everyone speaks French as a second language. Also, many families, especially those with children, often have a member of the family that can speak some English, but this is not guaranteed. Volunteers should try to speak French as much as possible can with their host family, and you may even pick up some Creole! Speaking the language is a huge part of Mauritian culture, and volunteers will earn respect from many Mauritians for trying out Creole and using French instead of resorting to English. However, French is also most Mauritians’ second language; so don’t worry about making mistakes, as they will be made on both ends. That being said, many Mauritians would like to improve their English and will take the opportunity to speak with you both to practice their skills and to show off their English knowledge.
The LE Mauritius program runs during the Mauritian winter break while students are on vacation from school. Volunteers teach from 9 AM to noon and will be responsible for planning lessons that cater to the needs and interests of the students. Volunteers teach in pairs, and one group of three, and have quite a lot of freedom in choosing curriculum. It is best for volunteers to be ambitious and always prepared! Teaching is exciting and challenging; volunteers are encouraged to incorporate their own skills and interests into the lessons. Past volunteers have also offered afternoon or evening classes for adults and teenagers.
Your students will generally be between the ages of 6 and 13, have little to no knowledge of English, and whose families cannot afford the extra education required to succeed in the Mauritian education system. As knowledge of English is crucial to success in Mauritius, Learning Enterprises’ work contributes to the alleviation of poverty and social disparity in program regions.
It is very important to begin the teaching experience with a very clear understanding of classroom management and how to enact discipline in a consistent way. Classroom management is a crucial part of the teaching experience, without which, very little will get done in the way of teaching or having fun. The fun, game-oriented teaching style of Learning Enterprises volunteers is very different from the formal way the students are typically taught in school. This being said, it can be difficult to maintain order in the classroom when school time feels like play time. Learning Enterprises does not recommend authoritarianism; however a clear sense of how you plan to maintain order is very important.