Teaching Traveling: Readers, have you been curious about short-term volunteer opportunities abroad? In Africa? During teacher summers?
American teacher Sue’s experience will inspire and assist you.
Sue, tell us about background.
Sue: My name is Sue Ron-Gonzalez. I am a special education teacher with the San Francisco Unified School District, and have worked with students with learning disabilities and emotional difficulties for the past 25 years.
My desire to travel to Africa began when I read the book, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, about an American missionary family’s tumultuous experience in the Congo. After reading this book, I began sponsoring children through Save the Children. I dreamed of volunteering in Africa, but since I was a single parent I needed to wait until my children were grown.
TT: Fascinating! How did you start traveling?
S: Two years ago I started researching volunteer opportunities in Africa and found an amazing non-profit, Tomorrow’s Stars. Their focus is on breaking down educational barriers in Elmina, Ghana. I decided to volunteer with this organization at the Bantuma School in Elmina, Ghana. For two weeks, I stayed at volunteer lodging at the beach and read with kids at the school’s library. I had an amazing time, but two weeks just wasn’t enough time for me. I knew that I had to get back to Ghana somehow.
The following summer I went back to Ghana for three weeks to implement an international book club project. Working alongside an wonderful Ghanaian librarian, the students at Bantuma School authored books to share with each other and on the website bookclub.realelibrary.com. This website was started by Jonathan Thurston, from the International School of Art, Business and Technology in Ghana. He is dedicated to providing a platform for kids around the world to share stories.