My bags are packed. It’s almost time to go home to the UK after ten months of living here at IBTS. It’s an emotional time right now – I’m excited about going home and reuniting with family and friends but there have been so many tearful farewells to get through…
Last summer, when I retired from full-time work and made plans to come out to Prague, I wasn’t quite sure what lay ahead of me. Come to think of it, that was a time of mixed emotions as well – excited anticipation mixed up with nerves. I needn’t have worried though; I felt warmly welcomed from the outset and could quickly tell I wouldn’t be bored.
Here’s a flavour of my year.
Teaching English to the CAT students was stretching due to my inexperience but turned out to be great fun and rewarding. Working in the library gave me the chance to get stuck into a project and have the satisfaction of seeing it through to completion; I liked that. Taking over some conference administration had a different set of challenges and rewards (“Help, how can we accommodate all these people coming next week? We don’t seem to have enough rooms!”) Checking the English in many students’ papers was a privilege and turned out to be very informative and educational! However, it is the people who will feature at the core of most of my memories. Oh, and I haven’t even mentioned opera, jazz, art, culture, architecture and everything else the beautiful city of Prague has to offer.
So thank you IBTS. Thank you for embracing me in this wonderful community. Doing a ‘gap year’ here has given me the opportunity to live, work and worship in a multi-cultural and international environment. It has been at various times scary, rich, challenging, fun, satisfying and generally brilliant. I’ve made friends for life. How will I ever settle back at home? Yet I know I will, because God gave me a job to do here for a while, stretched me, challenged me, taught me new things and I am going home a different person as a result. I wonder what He has for me next.
IBTS Volunteer 2009/10