THE BEST OFFICE IN THE WORLD
A couple of years ago I was reading ‘Hamlet’ by William Shakespeare for a school play and my character was ‘Horatio’, Hamlet’s close friend. While rehearsing my character I came across the valiant Kronborg Castle (Elsinore in Hamlet) and the mighty Baltic Sea washing its ramparts. When I googled this part of earth I was amazed by the misty forests fighting against waves and it was love in first sight.
Luckily this summer I got a chance to volunteer at the Bellnor’s International Summer Camp as an English teacher. If I was given one word to describe my whole experience, I will say this camp was ‘Lit’ in every possible sense. The camp was located in the middle of forest and 5 minutes’ walk from the world’s best office – Baltic Sea.
This year the Summer Camp was held from 9th July to 21st July in Kloogaranna, a small village in Estonia surrounded by dense forest and pine trees. The sandy beach was at a stone throw distance from the camp and one has to walk through the woods to get there. Students and teachers were living in wood houses and there was a big hall, a canteen, basketball courts and plenty of space to hide and vanish for a few days.
The main aim of the camp is to equip students with language skills and also to develop valuable professional skills, body language and business ethics. However, the most vital element of the camp is to give students an international experience and to them aware about different cultures around the world.
Around 80 kids aged 12 to 17 from all around the world took part in the camp. The students were further divided into 4 study groups namely Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Slytherin on the basis of Hogwarts Houses based on Harry Potter series. Most of the kids easily related the Harry Potter story to themselves and were quite excited since the beginning. Out of excitement they even named me after the famous Alan Rickman’s character ‘Professor Snape’.
THE CAMP AND TEACHERS
‘The future of the world was in my Classroom’
– Ivan Fitzwater
This year the camp was attended by 5 teachers all from different backgrounds and studying different courses. This diversity enlightened the camp with various ideas from all around the world and the different methods of teaching skills were used every day. The teachers were namely Copter from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok; Richa from Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge; and Oana, Zubeida & me (Snape) from University of Westminster, London.
During the stay, the teachers were consistently supported by the supervisors with study resources and materials that they needed for conducting classes. We mostly enjoyed our evenings at the beaches telling stories, sharing class experiences and planning lessons for the following day. We often visited a local convenience store not to buy anything but mostly for the walk through the woods.
One can travel all around the world but working in an office in the woods, near the beach and that too working with kids was a lifetime experience for us.
During our stay we visited Tallinn for one day, away from the classes and everyday lessons. We explored the beautiful city and its walled castles, savoring the local cuisines and drinks. Hanging out with fellow teachers is the experience I miss everyday while in London.
The camp was a holiday paradise for students. In short everyday was lined up with various social events, themed fixtures and sports. They engaged in social events and activities promoted by students and the Camp’s supervisors, including talent, fashion and hairstyle shows, as well as games and theatrical performances. Language classes were held in the morning hours and fun activities were held in the evening.
Finally, my class or as I preferred to call it ‘Squad Slytherin’ was an active group of students from various countries aged 12 to 17. The squad worked together and came up with creative ideas on how to run the class. We managed to recite over 100 new words during our tenure and also rehearsed our grammar. But most importantly being an international student, I always tried so that they came out of their comfort-zone and explored the world around. I have some previous experience in local schools but this was my favourite one as it consisted both learning and travelling. Best compliment I received while my tenure as an English teacher – ‘Professor Snape is so Lit!’.