A Day in the Life of a Volunteer at a Deaf School in Rwanda

Lillian with some of her students. Reagan Springer

Written by  September 8, 2018

The children are back and ready to learn, and I'm back and ready to teach. 

After their month-long break, the kids are back at school and ready to learn.

I am currently volunteering at two schools: Virunga Valley Academy (VVA) and the Deaf school. This makes my day packed with a number of different things I have committed myself to doing.

Every morning at the crack of dawn (which is about 5:50 am), my family and I wake up and get ready for the school day. By 7 am, we are all piled into the car and on our way to school. My uncle does a morning assembly with his students and then we go to the Deaf school.

Since the children were gone, I have been working with the kindergarten class at VVA. It has brought a certain light to my heart and has made me realize what we need to work on at the Deaf school.

On our first visit back, we came in during math class. This got me thinking, since I had observed them and their ways of doing multiplication, I wanted to teach them an easier way to do math. After I got that idea in my mind, I ran with it, and I couldn't be happier with the results I have begun to see.

The first thing we did with the kids was teach them the nine trick you use with your hands. This trick took me about 30 minutes to explain, but when they finally understood it, their smiles on their faces was priceless.

After that, I went back to VVA, where I have been teaching the kindergarten class the alphabet in American Sign Language and school signs like book, bathroom, teacher and school. I am so amazed at how much the students at VVA and at the Deaf school love to learn so much. It makes me think that many people at home, including myself, have not realized we are blessed with our education we get, because a lot of people can't get the same.

This week, I have been to the Deaf school three times. All three of those days I had something new prepared to teach the kids. I printed off addition, subtraction, and multiplication worksheets to see where they are. Because the principal of the school told Reagan that often the teachers give the students more advanced work, I decided to test them and practice more basic work, like the times tables. We worked on 2s, 10s, 9s, and 11s. They have been improving so much, it brings my heart such joy to see them realizing their potential.

I am going back to the school on Monday and will have another packet for the kids to work on. I am so proud of them and they love letting me teach them.

I am planning on going to college for teaching and coming back and teaching here again. On Monday, we are going to review 11s, 2s, and 9s, and I am going to introduce 5s and 3s. I am so excited to see how this will play out.

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Published in Volunteer Abroad Blogs
Lillian Berggoetz

Lillian is a recent high school graduate. She has been a part of Indiana’s Deaf community for four years. She is volunteering in Rwanda and volunteering at a local Deaf school in Ruhengeri for three months.

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