A St Andrews man who spent three “fantastic” months teaching in Malaysia, is urging others to volunteer abroad.
Jamie Murphy taught English, maths, history and science, to three classes of students between eight and 14 at two schools – one for refugees and the other for orphaned children – in Kuala Lumpur between January and April.
After completing his masters degree at Durham University, Jamie decided he wanted to volunteer before starting his new career.
He admitted that the experience was “difficult” at first, as he struggled with being alone in an unfamiliar country. However, after a weeks, adjusting to Malaysia, he said it became a “fantastic experience”.
“The children I taught made every day memorable in one way or another, whether it was by the amusing things they said and did, or by the challenges we had and worked through together,” Jamie said.
“My wider travels around Malaysia, exploring different cities and states over the weekend and up to Thailand and down to Singapore in the school holidays were also very memorable in a completely different way, as I got to immerse myself in the countries’ cultures.
“I learned a variety of skills in people management, organisation and resource creation, along with public speaking and other practices that improved my self confidence.
“I gained new acquaintances and great friends, got to see another part of the world and enjoyed the company of the people there. I learned about myself, what I’m capable of and the obstacles that before might have seemed insurmountable but now I know I can tackle – the whole trip helped me to become more resilient, self-assured and self-reliant.”
Now Jamie is urging other people in St Andrews to volunteer abroad. He said it can be done cheaply, and benefit future job hunts or university applications.
Jamie added: “The skills you can learn while volunteering are some of the most lasting and tangible you could ever hope to cultivate. Whether you are helping care for abandoned animals, rescuing turtles, raising crops, helping the homeless or teaching in a school, the abilities fostered by volunteering are far-reaching and indispensable.
“As well as providing an otherwise unattainable insight into another culture and country, volunteering abroad can open your eyes to another way of living and another, much more poignant, way of giving.”