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Janelle Morey is infatuated by the laid back lifestyle of Vanuatu and other Pacific islands and has found the education system fits nicely into that mould.
A third year Warrnambool Deakin University Bachelor of Education student, Janelle has recently returned from a three-week teaching placement in Vanuatu.
Janelle was part of a 13-member group of Deakin University and was the only pre-service teacher from the Warrnambool Campus. She worked in a school devoid of technology and had to rely on the basics of chalk and a blackboard.
Due to a shortage of teachers through illness and injury she had to take a lot of responsibility in the class for a week with years 7 and 8s and two weeks with grade 4 pupils at Freswota Bilingual Primary School in Port Vila.
"Freswota is a bilingual school with half the school French speaking the other English. There was no technology and limited resources to work with. After being thrown in the deep end on the first day I soon learnt how to improvise and to just go with the flow and not to stress." Janelle said.
"They were short staffed and were happy to have us there. The teacher who was supposed to supervise me had three classes and 120 kids to look after."
There were 42 students in her class but usually attendance hovered closer to 30.
Janelle found the education standards of local children to be lower than Australian levels but hopes the introduction of the new National Curriculum in Vanuatu in 2014 will bridge the gap.
"I learned a lot about my teaching style along with classroom management techniques. I had to learn very quickly how to simplify instructions, concepts and phrasing of words."
Lessons start at 8am and finish at 2.30pm. "It was really motivating to start early in the lovely weather." Finishing early allowed for our group to explore Port Vila and par-take in cultural activities, visit the teachers college and Vanuatu's largest village Mele.
Janelle lived in Fiji for 12 months in 2008 and loved the experience.
"We sometimes forget what's important and get to caught up in all the politics and the materialistic world. Visiting areas in the Pacific and seeing how happy the locals are and the big smiles on the children's faces makes you appreciate the simple things in life. I thought I'd like to see if I'd like the experience of teaching in the Pacific region."
The experience in Vanuatu has done nothing to change her positive views.
"It is a beautiful place and the locals are friendly and very welcoming," she said. "I would recommend the global experience program to all Deakin students studying teaching.
Janelle also became accustomed to the regular rumblings of minor earthquakes and aftershocks. "The first one happened when we were down on Tanna Island visiting Yasur one of the world's most active volcanoes. Upon our return to Efate Island we experienced five days of tremors. On our last day at school another earthquake occurred and we were in the playground and I asked the children `did you feel that?' and they just said it happened all the time.
"You got over being woken up every night by the tremors."
To arrange interviews or photos please contact Rick Bayne, Deakin University, on 0418 140 489.