Sarah, our Education and Volunteer Manager has been with us for 9 months, she talks to us about her experiences with the Free Classes team and how JWOC has inspired her and so many people in our community.
During my time as the Education and Volunteer Manager I have been lucky enough to be working with many wonderful and inspiring people. My background is in teaching, having taught in London for 3 years and in Sudan for 2 years.
I am constantly humbled by the amazing people at JWOC. What makes JWOC special is that people are helping themselves improve their life opportunities, JWOC simply helps by giving the tools. Our Scholarship students are remarkable, each with their own personal story of how they have overcome enormous odds and shown immense dedication to their education and bettering their lives in difficult circumstances. Our Scholarship students not only want to improve their chances but also have a passion for helping others. They truly are incredible as demonstrated through the energy with which they manage their studies at university, working to cover their living costs as well as volunteering in our Free Classes, Microfinance, Clean Water and Community Liaison and Assistance Programs.
I arrived in 2013 at an opportune time to see last year’s Year 4 students graduate. It was inspiring to hear their stories and how much they had grown and developed during their time with JWOC. I also got to meet some of the previous graduates and find out some of their success stories and find out just how much being a Scholarship student at JWOC has helped as a catalyst for their personal journeys and that of their families.
Within the Free Classes team I work with some amazing, motivated and dedicated people, always happy to do that bit extra and help. Our previous Free Classes Program Manager was with JWOC for 8 years, as a Scholarship student, Intern and Free Classes Program Manager and lived and breathed Free Classes helping it to become what it is now. Khoeurn, our new Free Classes Program Manager, graduated from our Scholarship Program last year and in fact gave a beautiful speech for his graduating class of 2013 and is a testament to the difference a Scholarship can make. He is inspired to help his community through education. Kea, our Free Classes Support Officer, is a current Scholarship student in Year 3 who has grown in confidence through JWOC’s teacher development and always tackles his work with a smile and a joke. Nesa, our Child Development Coordinator and Librarian as well as Art Class team leader, is extremely professional as well as innovative in coming up with creative ideas for children to learn whilst having fun. As well as these key members we have the sewing team, the Computer classes team, the Art class team, the Under 8’s team and the English classes team. The Free Classes team is always willing to go above and beyond their roles. It has been great to share and be part of the Free Classes team growing. It is exciting looking to the future to more opportunities for growth for the Free Classes team at the same time as enhancing our educational provision for the community.
As well as working with an incredible team it has been inspiring to hear how JWOC has touched people who have come into contact with or have heard of our organization, such as Jane, Pat, Janet, Allen, Toni, April, Mark and Erin to name but a few. Jane and Pat started by sponsoring a student and have become increasingly more involved spending time volunteering with JWOC over the last few years helping to build capacity. Jane is now our Executive Director and a fantastic advocate for JWOC’s work. Janet and Allen have continuously supported JWOC throughout the years, especially through their thoughtful and encouraging emails with JWOC’s family of staff, Scholarship students and graduates; they know JWOC’s extended family better than anyone. Toni, Mark and April are some of the conscientious tour managers from our longtime supporters Collette tours who have seen JWOC grow year by year from humble beginnings to reaching over 700 students a year. Erin is one of the newest members of our board who will be coming to volunteer this month and help build capacity at JWOC; she has been coming up with some creative and generous ways of fundraising for JWOC as well as giving her time. JWOC really seems to enrich people’s lives and inspire people to want to do better – it certainly has for me!