BA (Honours) Primary Education graduate Lydia Allen volunteered for the International Citizen Service following her teacher training. She was placed in a Nomadic village in Nigeria where she taught a group of 4-14 year olds.
'Teacher training was so much fun and it often felt like you were back at primary school yourself. Being at university taught me a lot about myself and gave me so much more confidence and drive to do what I want to do with my life. Although I do not want to commit to a teaching job just yet, I have gained skills that will be useful in so many other areas of my life. I know now I am passionate about education and finding out what works best for children.
'I love children's energy. They are far more insightful than some people give them credit for and I enjoy getting to know them and listening to what they have to say.
'My teacher training at Sheffield Hallam was greatly appreciated while I was in Nigeria as I was the only volunteer that had this sort of experience. Teaching in Nigeria is very different to here but we were there to make changes and to show children and adults alike that learning can be fun and interesting. I had many techniques and strategies from my training that I could share.
'I remember one day that I took a packet of balloons and books of stickers to work with me and I gave a child a balloon with a smiley face drawn on it and the words "WELL DONE!", explaining to them and the rest of the group why they deserved this reward. From then on the children all tried much harder to stay on task. The child that had first received the balloon was so proud of themselves and carried it home so carefully, it was quite emotional.
'The children did not speak much English at all so communication had to take on a different form unless there was someone to translate. But once the children got to know me, it was much easier to get on with the learning. I guess this is much like children in the UK; you have to build a relationship with any children you teach before you can be an effective educator.'