Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Our Unbelievable UniBreak in Thinadhoo, Maldives

COUNTRY: Maldives
PROJECT: Teaching and swimming coaching
WRITTEN BY: Vivienne Zhu

I’m sad that this will be my last blog post for the trip. We’ve experienced so much, and it’s rapidly coming to an end in two days. It has been an extraordinary and memorable journey with five amazing girls and we were lucky enough to see some beautiful wildlife today; a pod of dolphins, some sharks, and a three-legged turtle!

For future Unibreakers, I want to give you a few tips.

Firstly, add your group on Facebook prior to the trip and don’t bring excessive quantities of items. There are plenty of local shops you can go to buy all your household needs: toothbrush/toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner, Nutella, peanut butter, etc. Bringing these items will just weigh your suitcase down when you could bring books and games for the kids to play.

Secondly, don’t let bad weather spoil your fun! Our second trip to Havodigalaa Island began with overcast clouds and rain, but we were still able to chill in hammocks, and watch a beautiful sunset. We concluded the night with a glow stick party and karaoke - singing and dancing until we were tired. I also helped the locals light candles to use at night (a bit difficult given the heavy winds!)

Thirdly, immerse yourself in teaching – whether it is inside or outside the classroom. You get a grasp of how unique each child is and you come to recognise their strengths and weaknesses. I will certainly miss their persistent calls of “MISS” whenever they have problems or simply want my attention. Without a doubt, putting in the time and energy has been worthwhile.

Additionally, the progress the kids have made in swimming has been phenomenal. Some are able to swim freestyle without kickboards and through constant encouragement and praise, all the students were able to get in the water. (A tip for sports coaching – “hands on heads” will have the kids quieten down almost immediately!)

On our last day at school, we held an assembly where we presented a video Janelle made and gifted the school with our painting of Australia. Ajeeb invited us for a farewell dinner at school, where we dressed up in traditional Maldivian dresses. We captured many special moments with our teachers and were constantly praised on how beautiful and model-like we looked (#MissMaldives2015). Some of us even had veils tied to our hair, and it was like our own Maldivian wedding! We were treated to a great feast prepared by our teachers, and we said our final thank you to our in-country agent and the school.

Finally, treasure the memories you create with your new friends, your teachers and your students. We may come to a resort again in the future, but how often will we be able to live on a local island in Maldives? Getting to know the locals, saying “hi” to strangers, and going on snorkelling trips were certainly the highlights of the trip for me. Living as the locals do allowed us to truly understand the culture and lifestyle of Maldivians.

The Thinadhoo group would like to give our sincerest thanks to our in-country agents. Ibrahim, our local tour guide, thank you for purchasing our small household needs whether it be fruit or toilet paper! Whilst you appear shy, we have had so much fun with you, and are so grateful that you have been able to show us around the island.

Assad, you have been so amazing. Whenever we had a problem or wanted to go somewhere, you were quick to get it fixed or organised. Words cannot describe how efficient and kind-hearted you are, and we will surely miss your singing! We will certainly miss you in the weeks to come as we will no longer have snorkelling trips or see you on a near-daily basis.

We’ve taken so many photos and created countless memories, which will remain with us forever. This past month has been unbelievable and certainly unforgettable. We will definitely keep in touch with one another and we’ve already organised meet-ups in the coming weeks!

Thanks for sharing this journey with us! Love the Thinadhoo group.

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