Our 2010 team of Guyana year-long volunteers just recently arrived in Georgetown, the country's capital, for their month-long orientation. Below, WorldTeach volunteer Alex Berry shares with us some of his first impressions of his new home away from home.
"I have had an eventful first week in Guyana. I left from JFK on Sunday night for a 6 hour flight to Georgetown, Guyana. While Guyana is normally an hour ahead of east coast time, daylight savings time is not observed so there was no time zone change. After a restless flight, the WorldTeach staff picked us up at the airport and took us to the Cyril Potter College of Education, where we are staying for orientation. CPCE is where all teachers in Guyana go for training. I think their experience is a bit different from those of their American counterparts. While CPCE is on the Georgetown power grid, there is no Georgetown city water. Rain water is collected and pumped up to holding tanks where it can be used for showers , washing clothes etc. We have been advised that in all of Guyana, the water is unsafe to drink. Across the street from CPCE is a hardware store that also is certified to sell purified water, so we fill up 10 gallon (roughly) jugs every day. The 14 of us go through about 2 jugs a day! In addition to the water situation, there are no washing machines. All washing is done by hand. We got a brief lesson on one of the first days, but today was the first day I actually did my laundry. It took me about an hour and a half to wash about half a load of laundry.
We've been pretty busy getting prepared for our year of teaching. We've talked about cultural differences, the role of the volunteer in the community, extra-curricular activities, different learning types, evaluating learning etc. We've been to Georgetown proper a few times to get the lay of the land. I think we'll have to go to Georgetown for any hard-to-find items. There are some areas where we've been advised not to go, or at least not to bring valuables into, but I've felt pretty safe on the balance.
images from Anna Regina, where Alex will be teaching
I'm getting anxious to get to my teaching site, Anna Regina. Its about 3 hours from Georgetown, and I'll have to take a cab/bus, a boat across a wide river delta, and then another cab/bus. I think I'll take a taxi the first time, just to help me manage all my luggage. Anna Regina is on the Essequibo Coast, named after the Essequibo River. It is supposed to be a pretty quiet town, which I'm looking forward to experiencing. I'll be teaching math, physics or chemistry. The school, Anna Regina Multilateral School, is supposed to be one of the best in the country. I'll report back with more details once I arrive in Anna Regina in a few weeks.
We have a wonderful group of 14 volunteers, 4 guys and 10 girls. Of the guys, 1 is from England and one is from Canada. I'll be living with the Canadian (Nova Scotian to be more exact). The girls are all from the US, pretty much from all over. There's one girl from North Carolina, so I have someone to appreciate my southern hospitality. Most of the volunteers are going to be placed either very close to Georgetown, up one river or on the coast like I will be. There is one pair who's going to be a little bit in the interior, but I think most of us were expecting to be in more demanding conditions. While I was prepared to be in a very remote area, I think I'll appreciate regular internet access and electricity as the year goes on."
[all photos courtesy of John Brock]