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Michele Goes To The Sudan

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Michele Harmeling


Having learned so much, in the company of many other driven, accomplished and compassionate people, I feel that it is time to take my knowledge and use it to its best effect elsewhere. “Where is ‘elsewhere’?,” you may ask.

After researching for weeks, an organization called the Sudanese Volunteer Programme came to my attention. SVP is based in London, UK and serves mainly universities and schools in Khartoum, Northern Sudan. Their mission is,

“…the exchange of cultures and the forging of life-long links is our main objective. Improving the standard of English amongst Sudanese is but a useful and welcome by-product of our endeavours!”

Volunteers are housed at their affiliate universities, but can spend time in the homes of their students and colleagues, who live outside Khartoum in Sudanese villages. There is also an Arabic language exchange between volunteers and villagers; being fascinated by languages, I would love the opportunity to learn Arabic. SVP provides a stipend equivalent to a local teacher’s salary. This is not much by American standards, consisting of $130 Sudanese dinars, but it is enough to purchase food, clothing, etc. during the stay. According to SVP’s staff and former volunteers,

“The people are genuinely lovely in Sudan and welcome you into their homes with a generosity that is embarrassing. We seem to have lost this generosity in the West where we tend to be suspicious of the ‘foreigner’. In Sudan, it’s what makes the whole experience worthwhile.” (from SVP’s volunteer blog)

It sounds like we will be well taken care of and welcomed as members of our Sudanese communities. SVP employs volunteer teachers for a minimum of 6 months. At the moment, as discussed with SVP’s director, David Wolton, I would like to depart for Khartoum in October of 2012. This gives me just over a year to prepare.



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