Lattitude Blog

Meine erste Woche in Neuseeland.

Ich kann es selbst noch kaum fassen. Ich bin seit über einer Woche hier in Neuseeland.
Seit Sonntagabend, den 20. Juli bin ich in meinem Placement angekommen.

Sonntagmorgen habe ich das Auckland-Museum besucht. Dort haben wir eine Maori-Ausstellung besucht und haben einige traditionelle Maori-Tänze gesehen. Danach ging es ab zum Busbahnhof. Das Bussystem in Neuseeland ist um weiten besser als das Deutsche (aber dafür haben sie keine Bahn). Auf der Busfahrt habe ich eine echt nette Kiwi kennengelernt. Sie hat mir einige der Ausflugsziele in meiner Umgebung genannt.
Als ich dann in Matamata angekommen bin, viel mir sofort die Touristeninformation auf. (Matamata wird auch Hobbition genannt, hier wurden die Aufnahmen der Hobbits von Tolkiens „Herr der Ringe“ und „Der Hobbit“ gedreht.)

Dort wurde ich von Jamie & Familie abgeholt. Er ist mein Team-Leader in Totara Springs. Er brachte mich zu meinem 2.Chef Andrew. Bei ihm bekam ich mein Abendessen und verbrachte einen schönen Abend mit seinen Kindern. Mir ist aufgefallen, dass die Häuser hier nicht wirklich isoliert sind und die Kiwis so etwas wie Umweltschutz & Recycling nicht wirklich kennen. Man verbrennt hier einfach alles in seinem Garten.

Am Abend wurde ich dann nach Totara Springs gebracht. Das Camp liegt gute 15 min von der Stadt entfernt am Ende einer Straße. Im Camp angekommen wurde ich gleich dem Küchenteam vorgestellt, bevor es in meine Wohnung ging. Das versorgt mich nun ein Jahr lang mit Essen.
In meiner „Wohnung“ wurde ich gleich von mehreren Leuten überrascht. Ich lernte Beth (meine Mitbewohnerin) und Zac kennen. Sie arbeiten beide mit mir im Camp, jedoch als Festangestellte (Das hat einige Nachteile wie ich festgestellt habe). Zudem waren noch Freunde von Ihnen vorbei gekommen.IMG_20140725_170440

Am Montag ging die Arbeit dann los. Die Woche war geprägt von Matratzen. Diese Woche war sehr ruhig im Camp. Es waren keine Gruppen anwesend, die irgendwelche Aktionen gebucht haben. Somit war das ganze Instructor-Team ( in dem ich ab jetzt ein Mitglied bin) dazu angeregt bei der Hausarbeit zu helfen. Das bedeutet die Aktionen zu kontrollieren, ggf. zu reparieren. Zudem wurde der komplette Essensraumboden neu gemacht, für mich bedeutete das: Teppich ausreisen. Mir haben noch nie die Hände so lange nach einer Arbeit wehgetan.
Nun zu den Matratzen. Das Camp bietet eine Übernachtungsmöglichkeit für bis zu 400 Personen. Diese Woche wurden alle Matratzen neu Bezogen. Das hieß für uns, Matratzen ab beziehen, neue Beziehen und in die Räume bringen. Das fing Montags an und hörte Freitags auf.

Nun habe ich erst mal Wochenende. Beth will mir ein wenig die Umgebung zeigen. Und am Montag geht es mit dem ersten Camp los. It’s Sportscamp-Time!

Liebe Grüße

Overseas Volunteering – The Key To Getting Brits Learning Languages?

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It is hard to know whether being brought up with English as a first language is a benefit or a hindrance. Labelled the ‘language of international communications’, those that are equipped with it are able to speak more freely around the world than anyone with any other language. But, as a result, there has been a lack of initiative to encourage widespread education of foreign languages to a high enough level in the UK; only 9% of 15 year olds being competent in their first foreign language. This has led to a language deficit.

This puts the UK at a disadvantage to the rest of the world where a higher-percentage of people speak multiple languages, including English. According to the authoritative manifesto released by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Modern Languages earlier this month, it is now the case that ‘speaking only English is as much of a disadvantage as no English’.

As a result of this language deficit the APPG asserts that the UK economy loses up to £50bn a year through missed opportunities within global trade and job markets. Furthermore, the UK is also damaged in respect to its diplomatic, cultural and reputational standing in the world.

Baroness Coussins, Chair of the APPG on Modern Languages explains further:

The clear outcome of these findings according to the APPG is that there must be a huge shift toward prioritising the teaching of languages in our educational system, throughout all of the schooling system and to a much higher level.

One of the major supporters of the APPG’s manifesto is the British Council, which last year published a document detailing the most important foreign Languages For The Future and necessarily the languages which should be more widely taught within the UK, to better address its language deficit.

Top 10 Languages

Here at Lattitude Global Volunteering we couldn’t agree further that more should be done to increase the language skills of young people in the UK, particularly in those languages outlined by the British Council as being the languages of the future. This view is reinforced by the language composition of our own staff, where among the 20 staff of our Reading office alone, no less than 18 languages are spoken, admittedly to varying degrees. This includes most commonly the likes of Spanish, French and German, but also a myriad of quite unusual languages such as Bulgarian, Latin, Khmer, Bislama, Tonga and even a Scottish dialect, Doric.

But, as well as mainstream education, we would also argue that overseas volunteering is a great investment option to be considered to help develop the language skills of young people in the UK. Lattitude Global Volunteering alone provides placements in countries where 5 of the British Council’s top 10 languages of the future are spoken; 4 out of the top 5!

In response to the publishing of this manifesto by the APPG on Modern Languages, we asked our alumni how volunteering overseas had enhanced their language skills and we had an overwhelming response:

Joe Baynham, China
I had no intention of studying a language at uni, let alone Mandarin! If I’m honest I really didn’t enjoy languages at school and did not continue them into college.During my placement in China the introduction to Chinese we received sparked a real interest in the language for me and this interest grew into a genuine enthusiasm as I started to pick up more and more throughout the placement and was able to communicate with locals in my day to day life and later travels. As a result of my time with Lattitude, I took extra modules when I came back to the UK to study at university, and have since graduated with a BA in business and management with proficiency in Mandarin Chinese.If I could have told myself back before the placement that I would end up studying Mandarin I would have thought it was impossible, but I’ve enjoyed studying the language hugely and owe a lot of that to my Lattitude Placement.

Roxanne Parnham, Argentina
My experience with Lattitude in Argentina gave me good Spanish language skills (I knew very little before I left) and inspired me to study Spanish at university! So my placement really had a big impact on the decisions I made for the future.

Natalie Sew, China
I’d always wanted to learn another language but found it difficult whilst at school. I took a Lattitude placement in China and decided to try and learn Chinese. I found that because I was living there I soon overcame a lot of my earlier anxieties about learning Chinese and just threw myself into it. I was lucky that my school assigned me a Chinese teacher, but even better than that I had all my students who were more than willing to correct their teacher’s Chinese mishaps! After 6 months on placement I became confident enough to go travelling by myself and kept my skills up with evening classes when I returned to the UK. I’ve now been awarded funding through the Chinese Scholarship Council to study at Fudan University in Shanghai for one year, to build on my language skills and work towards conducting social research in China. I would never have had the confidence to travel independently or believed I could work in another language, but my experiences on placement helped give me the skills and showed me what I could accomplish.

Korede Bolade, Japan
The placement forced me to speak in Japanese day in, day out which is what I wanted. My Japanese improved greatly during the time I was there and this encouraged me to continue learning after I came back. I ended up sitting the Japanese language proficiency test and passing the second highest level, which means I have an upper intermediate ability in Japanese. I have gone on to learn other languages as a result, including Korean and Portuguese.

Vicki Offland, China
I had already decided on my degree in Russian and Chinese, before I went and volunteered in China as an English teacher. However, I’d never studied Chinese before, so my 5 months in China gave me a good chance to find out what I would be getting myself in for. What really became apparent as I moved about the areas of China was how everywhere the majority of the population’s English knowledge was limited to greetings. This made me realise that if I ever really wanted to come back to this country, I should really try to make the most of my Chinese studies at university. I was so impressed when I returned several years later and found I could actually have meaningful conversations with the locals rather than struggling with some sort of sign language. Deciding to study Chinese was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. A languages degree has left me with a very open career path at the end of university, which is ideal because in the past five years I’ve struggled to come to a concrete decision in what I want to do in the future. Employers, across all disciplines, hugely value language skills, particularly in today’s interdependent world. However, first and foremost, learning the language of a place you’re going is a respectful gesture towards locals and something they hugely appreciate.

Reading through the stories of just some of our volunteers, it is clear that volunteering overseas uniquely instils an enthusiasm for languages and a real world understanding of their practical use and importance in our globalised world, which is hard to convey in a typical educational environment. They also reveal how fundamental languages are to unlocking the final barrier to a truly insightful cultural experience and exchange; bringing communities around the world closer together and allowing the next generation of young people to better understand the world they are inheriting. This helps explain why, against the grain of the growing language deficit in the UK our volunteers are ignited with a life-long passion to learn foreign languages and pursue relevant careers.

If you’ve volunteered overseas with Lattitude or any other organisation, we’d love to hear about how it affected your interest in learning a foreign language. You can get in touch with us by messaging us on Facebook or emailing us at

An Introduction To The Cradle Of Life…

In August 2011 I was rejected from enrolling onto an environmental degree based on not having enough “Tropical work experience,” I felt a little annoyed at first but then I realised I would have to find the perfect opportunity to go away to develop my skills and that is where my journey with Lattitude began.

I found Lattitude through Facebook and from already following all manner of volunteering and environmental non-governmental organisations.  I approached Lattitude asking if they could help my somewhat unique case and during my interviews Brazil was suggested to me where I would be cataloguing species as I worked my way through the Amazon, which sounded great, however I was later told the project had been axed.

I left the Lattitude office thinking it was great to have met the friendly bunch but perhaps was not meant to be, but then a week later I was called with a somewhat unique offer in acting as a guinea pig by taking a placement in Costa Rica.

Now Costa Rica was never a place I had planned to go but the more I read into what I would be doing, where I would be based, who I would be working with and the opportunities for me to develop – it sounded like an opportunity that was too good to be true.  I confirmed my interest and returned to Lattitude where the friendly staff took me through the entire process to prepare me for my solo trip to Central America.

Before Christmas I quit my jobs and bought a journal ready to fly out to New York on New Years Day 2012 and began documenting my experiences over the 7 months I was out there.  I wrote in my journal religiously each day for the 7 months I was there (I had never kept a diary or created a blog before) and took over 10,000 photos!

All of which I worked up into a blog which I am very proud of and is publicly available at

It is a long blog crammed full of beautiful pictures and links to videos hosted on Youtube but I am more than happy to share my story and journey with others.


Upon returning from Costa Rica I got onto the course I had dreamed about and successfully beat the Masters with a “Pass With Merit” and I am now happily working in the environment sector in London gaining some experience before I relocate to somewhere more… Tropical, and more me.






Erste Tage in New Zealand

Kia Ora (Hallo),

um all eure Fragen zu beantworten: JAAA! ich bin gut und sicher in Neuseeland angekommen.

Nach einer 1,5 Tage langen Reise, die in München um 22.35 Uhr Ortszeit startete und über Dubai und Brisbane führte bin ich un endlich angekommen. In Auckland. Hier wurden wir nach zahlreichen Sicherheitskontrollen von Sharyn ( der Country-Managerin, meine Ansprechpartnerin in NZ) abgeholt und in ein Hotel gebracht. Hier haben wir nun ein paar Tage um uns zu erholen und die neuseeländische Kultur etwas kennen zu lernen.

Nach einer mehr oder weniger langen Nacht fuhren wir in nach Te Hana Te Ao Marama gefahren. Einem nachgebauten Maori-Dorf. (Maori sind die Ureinwohner Neuseelands). Dort wurden wir mit einer traditionellen Willkommenszeremonie ( Powhiri)  begrüßt und bekamen einen Haka zu sehen. Fotos und Videos von unserem Ausflug könnt ihr hier anschauen. Danach sind wir zurück nach Auckland gefahren. Die Stadt ist auf Vulkanen erbaut, deren Krater man bewandern kann. Wir sind auf den Krater Mount Eden “gewandert”. Von dort hat man einen unglaublichen Ausblick über die Stadt. Fotos folgen.

Ich werde mich in den nächsten Tagen wieder melden Aber nun soll das erstmal reichen.
Liebe Grüße Leonie

Returned Volunteer On A Charitable Mission For Vanuatu

Recently returned volunteer Courtney Cliffe, who volunteered with Lattitude in the remote archipelago nation of Vanuatu has decided to make it her life goal to give back to the community she volunteered in.

Jumping Platform Of The Naghol Ceremony

Jumping Platform Of The Naghol Ceremony

She says that after volunteering for 5 months in a community where poverty is endemic, she felt she had to act. She described a community where children could not afford to go to school and where the schools had little or no resources. She gave the example of one child making the dangerous effort to climb coconut trees everyday to collect and sell, just to make enough to attend school. This situation is even more astonishing when we are reminded that in Vanuatu it only costs £10 to pay the school fees of a child for a year!


Upon returning to the UK she was determined to find a charity or mechanism to reliably channel funds back to her host community, but couldn’t find anything, and realised that this was a common frustration for many returned volunteers. Her goal has since been to set up her own charity called Olgeta (Bislama for together), which will provide a channel to initially sponsor the education of children in Vanuatu, but ultimately provide this utility for all returned volunteers looking to give back to their host communities.

With Children

Despite the obvious challenges Courtney will face, she says ‘I have no doubt it will become a reality’ and has already got many fundraising projects on the go. If you’d like to support Courtney in helping her set up her charity or simply want to donate, then you can get in touch at

Being A Lattitude Volunteer In Fiji: Laurel’s Story

So my placement in Fiji is a teaching placement, at a primary school called Marist Convent in Ovalau. Myself and another Lattitude volunteer Ashlee are here for 2 school terms and the first school term we were teaching.


During our first term, we found the library which had been neglected and needed a lot of organising and tidying so we asked our head teacher if we could change our role to librarians when we began term 2. The first four or five weeks we worked hard to organise, clean and decorate the library and then we had a donation of a few hundred books from an Australian charity called Bula Books, so we added these fantastic aids to the collection of books and organised a timetable for classes to come in and have the opportunity to read and borrow books.

We spoke to teachers about students who need help with their reading and began a 40 minute reading programme twice a day every weekday inviting a few of those students who need extra help from each class for one on one sessions. It’s been fantastic to watch the students grow in confidence when they read and very rewarding.

Library Fun Time

We decided that the children would benefit more if they could come to the library more than once a week and outside of class time too so we began staying in at recess and lunchtimes and made a timetable for different activities, quiet reading, storytelling sessions, colour and crafts and fun and games. The quiet reading sessions have been really popular, we have almost 50 children lined up outside the library, the response has been fantastic. The children come in and pick books to read and sit with their friends or by themselves and it’s wonderful to see them so interested. They eat their lunch and then come straight to the library to spend as much time as possible reading the new books; it’s really wonderful to see.

I really am having such a wonderful time here, I’ll be sad to say goodbye and go home at the end of next month!

Laurel Dunne

Library Time

Lattitude ICS Project Sangilo, Malawi Explained

Interested in volunteering with Lattitude ICS in Malawi, but would like to know a bit more about the project you’d be involved in? Team Leader Becky Bush provides a brilliant summary of the project thus far: 

You will be working within a community that consists mainly of subsistence farmers, most of whom live on less than $1 a day. The village of Sangilo and its surrounding depend on cassava and maize production as well as fishing in the lake, which has consistently yielded decreasing fish harvests.

Despite the poverty, culturally the communities are very committed to education, realising that it is a gateway to development at the family level and have demonstrated this commitment through their allocation of their own small resources in establishing and supporting education facilities in the local area. Such structures tend to be inadequate in size to house their need and are of local materials which provide insufficient durability and shelter for the children.

All projects are supported and encouraged by the traditional structure (chieftancy) and local development groups within the village with educational projects given priority.

Although some children enter primary school after having attended nursery, pass rates of standard 1 are very low, around 50%. The community hopes to increase this with better understanding of the basics.

Our primary aim is to prepare pupils for entry into the national educational system at the primary school levels by improving facilities and programming at the nursery level. This project is primarily education focused and is mainly focused on nursery education but with secondary projects along the way.

Hand Game

Host Writes Poem For Lattitude Volunteers

One of Lattitude’s host schools in Australia, St. Ursula wrote a poem about 2 of our volunteers from the UK (Issy Plastow) and Germany (Britta Marko) and the impact they had made during their placements. Enjoy!:

Well it was just the other day
Not too long ago
Two young backpackers
Came down under, looking for a show

First came Britta,
Who travelled all the way from Germany
To come to Australia, where she fits in perfectly
Upon her arrival, she was not shy nor timid
No, no, our dear Britta had no limits
She jumped right in and got to know us all
Never holding back, not that I can recall
Every day she has graced us all with her cheerful smile
Making our days that bit more versatile
It was not long before our friendships with Britta were bound
As her cheery spark was spread all around

But you see the journey had only just begun
The double shot of fun was yet to come
Issy touched down soon after, in leaps and bounds
Never letting her feet touch the ground
She settled right in, and got straight to work
Setting out on her breast cancer campaign, which involved a bit of typical Issy Quirk
She toured the sights of Toowoomba, never letting anything get in her way

Not even those dreadful rainy days
She was later prescribed magical blue zinc
Which she was told would cure her skin which had turned bright pink
But being gullible is nothing to be ashamed of
Because at the end of the day you have surrounded us with love

Together these two added a few good stories to the books
Anyone would think they were crooks
You see, they didn’t fancy no jackaroo,
These blokes down under didn’t have a shot with either of these two
Any attempts they made were simply supressed
As the two backpackers didn’t like the way these shabby boys dressed

Never the less, being social was part of the test
And failing was not something they did best
So like good little girls, they did as they were told
And tottled along to the Cube to get a cup of that good old gold
It turns out they passed that social test with no trouble at all
They had a bit of fun and didn’t think too much of the brawl
Until someone found their picture on the Cube’s website
Boy did their faces go bright.

Together you became quite the team
And our time with you has been a delightful dream
Over the past year, you have become more that just backpackers
You have become our sisters, our friends and our mentors; despite being such crackers
So it is with great sadness that we must say our goodbyes
Thanks again for choosing down under; and sorry about the flies.

Week 9, Abrobiano, Ghana

To everything that has a beginning has an end. We started as a team and we are gradually concluding as a team. After the exciting weekend in Cape Coast, we started the ninth week on Monday, 23rd June with so much enthusiasm. At 7am we started with infrastructure where we did a bit of roofing of the toilet facility. The team continued with their normal teaching in the schools. At 2pm, we started a sachet net development facilitated by Isaac Aboni and Vincent Osim. At 4pm, we had our ACD on the topic, Globalization and Interdependence facilitated by Kweku, Team Leader. We discussed how two countries rely on each other for mutual assistance. After the ACD, we had a brief meeting on how to write our individual case studies facilitated by Nana Kojo, Team Coordinator. On Tuesday, we went on our normal teaching activities in the schools and at 2pm, we continued with our sachet net. At 3pm, the Peer Educators had a beading session class facilitated by Abigail Obodai.

On Wednesday, we did infrastructure and we completed the roofing portion and plastering of the whole toilet facility. The team after infrastructure went on teaching and at 2pm continued with the sachet net. At about 8pm,the team gathered for the last socials which was entitled the Reconciliation night hosted by the Team Coordinator, Nana Kojo. He asked the whole team to reflect on how we started as a team and how good we need to end it despite our cultural differences that has brought some tension between the team. He emphasized on long lasting friendship and team spirit wherever we find ourselves whether in the UK or Ghana. The Reconciliation Night which ended in a style with the team slogan ”SAWASAWA” which boosts the morale of the team members ended the day.

On Thursday, we went on our normal teaching activities in the schools, at 2pm we continued our sachet net and we had my MCD which was the football match between the Black Stars of Ghana verses the Portuguese National team at the on- going 2014 FIFA world cup where Ghana lost 1 to 2 in favour of the Portuguese. After the MCD, we had a short meeting on counterpart pair voting which is aimed at awarding the best counterpart pair at the end of the ten weeks. On Friday, the team went on their normal teaching duties in the various schools, where Focus Group Discussions (FGD) were held with students which is aimed at knowing the views of the students in primary 4 to JHS 2′s view on Teenage pregnancy issue in the Abrobiano community. At 4pm, team meeting was held and issues and information on infrastructure, updates, and upcoming events were discussed.

On Saturday, a health awareness event which is the inter-religious football gala scheduled for the 28 and 29 June started at 3pm. This was a conceived and accepted event which was facilitated by Isaac Aboni and Vincent Osim the community liaisons of the team. This football gala event was aimed at sensitizing the whole community on the need to practice personal hygiene in the Abrobiano community. Nine churches including the Muslims participated in the event. On Sunday was the semi-finals and finals of the football gala; where the Roman Catholic Church won the first position and the Methodist church won the second place. All teams that participated were awarded a certificate and the first and second teams won a wall clock and a dust bin respectively. What is expected has been achieved in the ninth week. Our heads are still up with hope as a team to make it to the end.

”Whatever appears in the mind must be introduced and when introduced it should be associated with what is already there”- Vincent Osim.DSCF5014 DSCF5090 DSCF5114

Matthew’s Blog Post.

Blog post

Before I came to Ghana a friend of mine gave me a set of medals that were from past football tournaments. I spoke to a few other people and they said that it would be a good idea to is to set up a tournament out there in Ghana as it would be a great reward for the kids and it would give them a sense of achievement. I also bought some football kits from my local team that were donated to me.
On the weekend of the gala one of the team leaders said that it would be a good idea for some of the volunteers to manage the teams and give them names, I named my team Bayern Neverlusin. Also we decided to buy snacks and refreshments for the kids as they would be outside playing football games consistently for a long time.
The tournament consisted of 8 teams of kids who attend one of our programmes. The teams played each other on a knock-out basis all the way until we were left with two teams for the final. The team I was managing went on to win the tournament which was an amazing thing to see.
Especially watching how much it meant to them during the game and in the penalty shoot-out. After the final was played the top three teams got given their medals and my team was given their trophy. Overall I was happy with how the whole day went and I was proud of my team.