Pippa is an English teacher and she has been volunteering with us since the beginning of the pandemic. We asked her to talk a bit about her experience of being an online volunteer.

   “Teaching English to a group of excitable, high energy kids on Zoom was always going to be a challenge! My first taste of online English classes with the SPI community was definitely a high learning curve for me. Juggling video sharing, games and getting kids to keep their cameras on was just the start. Every week when I start the Zoom call and welcome the kids one by one, I never know what to expect, but always by the end I am left with positive energy. 

As we have got to know each other over the past few months, it’s given me great joy and encouragement to see the students grow in their confidence in making sentences and talking to each other.

In these isolated times, connection and fun are even more important. Online activities have given us all the opportunity to be together in unexpected ways. In fact, for children growing up in these virtual spaces it’s so important to make them not only a place to learn, but a safe and enjoyable experience.

I’ve been an English teacher for over 20 years, 10 of them here in Istanbul. I’ve always loved the vibrancy and energy that comes from teaching students from all over the world. Hearing their stories, letting them express their perspectives and learning so much myself from them has been and continues to be a privilege. 

My connection with SPI began about 4 years ago when some of the Arabic speaking students from the school I was teaching at became volunteers themselves, helping mums with their kids whilst they learnt Turkish and some doing English clubs themselves.  As always, my students are an example to me!

In the Summer of 2018, I was inspired by an article about a Turkish teacher in Gaziantep who works with Syrian children in a local school to create a safe environment for them to learn and thrive. As I started my MA in Education and International Development in London that year, an important idea kept me going, that education can be a place not only for learning, but for personal growth and hope for the future in very difficult times.

None of us could have predicted this awful pandemic or its ongoing global effects. However, through my involvement with SPI, I can see some of that hope for the future being realised now.  Even though my contributions have been completely different from what I expected because of Covid 19 restrictions, I can see that perseverance, resilience and hope are being built in the younger generation through the work of SPI”.

Thank you Pippa for sharing this testimony with us!

We hope to be able to start the activities at the center as soon as possible, but in the meantime to are very grateful to Pippa and all our volunteers that every week come up with creative and innovative ideas to involve the children in the online programs.