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Bridging Worlds Through Education: Teaching English to Refugees

“As fellow teachers, many of you will know the feeling… a class of beginners staring back at you, their native language different to yours and looks of apprehension on their faces. Despite all of this, as we got to know each other we all became more comfortable.”

In this blog post featured by the Oxford University Press, Leanne Atherton, a qualified special education teacher and Indigo Volunteer, shares with us her remarkable volunteering experience teaching English to Ukrainian refugees in Poland.



The background


Back in November 2022, Leanne went to Krakow (Poland) to support our partner, Drop in the Ocean, deliver aid to Ukrainian refugees; significant assistance was needed to run the charity's free shop and to teach English classes to the newly arriving refugees.


Volunteers sorting warehouse donations at Drop in the Ocean

“Outside, a long queue of Ukrainian families eagerly waited to browse the clothes and accessories. A steady line of 200 men, women, and children entered the shop, taking almost 1000 items with them. From winter coats to pyjamas and toys, it was clear there was still very much a need."



Teaching refugees as a volunteer

“The experience I gained was invaluable and I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to contribute in some way. “

Leanne was assigned a beginner level class, made up of 10 women, mostly from Eastern Ukraine. They followed a curriculum developed by a team based in Greece exploring several learning areas, fromfeelings and the weather, to asking questions regarding basic needs

The classes were fun and engaging.


A highlight for me was a lesson on body parts where one of the students was my ‘glamorous assistant’. The class had to guess different body parts by sticking labelled post-it notes to their peers’ bodies. We did have a giggle when they found out that an elbow was in fact a stomach!”

Do you want to be a volunteer teacher? Top 3 suggestions


To everyone interested in becoming a volunteer teacher, Leanne’s suggestion are:


Volunteer teaching

1) Do your research

"Make sure the placement is right for you. Take time to explore your options and consider the impact you will have during your placement."

2) Consider your skills

"What can bring to the organisation? We all have different skills. Make a list of your relevant skills and consider how you can add value."

3) Commit your time

"Try to commit to at least four weeks of volunteer teaching. This keeps the lessons and approach consistent for students and gives you a chance to really see the impact of the work you do.”

Indigo Volunteers can help you in the process of finding the right volunteer opportunity! Our focus on Responsible Volunteering guarantees high levels of commitment and dedication and provides fee-free volunteers with the right tools to learn and prepare before going on the ground.



If you'd like to support Indigo and keep our work of teaching refugees alive, contribute to our Emergency Fundraiser.

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