It’s a month later than I planned, but it’s done! As promised, here is the post about what my general routine is, where I go, what I do, etc. My day begins:
I WAKE UP! But how well I slept the night before affects how easy it is for me to get out of bed. I’ll be honest, falling and staying sleep was a huge problem when I first got here (I think it was one of the ways my body attempted to cope with the anxiety of being in a new place.) Fortunately, this has been getting much better in the last few weeks! Sometimes it’s really easy to just pop right out of bed, and have a miraculously productive morning that may include a devotion/jog/walk/yoga/meditation…I went running twice last week before leaving for work, and I like to sit on the patio while I eat my breakfast when the chairs aren’t wet from any rain. Other mornings are me rolling out of bed 15 minutes before walking out the door, scrambling just to put on some clothes, throwing some lunch food in my bag, and eating breakfast en route. But most mornings are something between these two extremes.
Peckham Park Primary School
Oliver Goldsmith Primary School
I WALK TO WORK! On Monday and Wednesday, I walk down the street for 5 minutes to get to Peckham Park Primary School. I like to say hello to students and their families as they’re walking to school, too, since they live so close to my flat. On Tuesday and Friday, I walk with Mathea (my flat mate and fellow intern) to Oliver Goldsmith Primary School over in Camberwell (the district just East of Peckham.) This walk is a bit longer, taking about 25 minutes, and includes two different crosswalks where some really friendly people in reflective vests with flags stop traffic to assist us across the street. The first times I walked these streets, the people/vehicles/chaotic dashing across the street was really overwhelming. I’m pretty used to it now, and it’s strange to look back on my initial reactions to the seemingly “strange” things about my new neighborhood. Thursday mornings I spend in the Springboard main office in Central London, so I walk a few minutes to get to the bus stop. Then, I get to ride one of those iconic, bright red, double-decker buses for twenty minutes to get to the office! On a perfect morning, there is a top deck seat right in the front available, and the SUN IS OUT – this makes for a beautiful view of some of the city with the bright blue sky beyond and above the London architecture. Then I take the bus back to Peckham for an afternoon in the Springboard room at Harris Peckham Academy, the secondary school.
A view of London from the Springboard room at Oliver Goldsmith at 4:15 PM a couple of weeks ago. It’s so dark! But can you see St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Shard?
A beautiful street I found with a new acquaintance after church between Peckham and East Dulwich.
I WORK! I work for a London-based charity called Springboard for children. Through Springboard, I teach literacy to twelve students in the primary schools – I teach each of them one-to-one in 40 minute long lessons. We practice our reading and writing with books, games, and visual or kinetic activities that help the kids engage their literacy in a variety of ways. On Thursdays, I’ve recently begun teaching literacy lessons in the Harris Peckham Academy Secondary School as well, which is another new and exciting experience. It’s very different from the primary schools, but the needs and trends of the students I interact with are generally the same. The students who come to Springboard for Children usually have a lot of other challenges stacked against them in British society, like poverty, unstable family situations, malnutrition, special education needs, or learning English as a foreign language. A struggle I’ve had as I’ve been settling into my volunteer placement is figuring out what my role is in helping these children. I teach literacy to students who struggle in reading and writing, but the things that make it hard for my students to succeed in the classroom are outside of my power to change. It’s most definitely outside of my power to change the kind of support the students get at home, the institutionalized racism and classism that keeps their families down, the poverty they may experience, the way that society adjusts to their special educational needs. On the flip side, there are countless children around the world who experience variations of these learning and LIFE barriers every day, and I have the privilege of seeing what the faces of justice and injustice look like in this London context. It is also a privilege to work alongside such amazing people as well…my supervisors and fellow tutors are inspiring people, and I take comfort knowing that we can wrestle with difficulties of our roles together. 🙂 (You can look forward to some pictures of me and my co-workers, although I won’t be allowed to post pictures of my students for their protection.)
The sky on my way home from work last week – it looks like candy floss! (aka cotton candy in British English)
I HANG OUT AT HOME! I come home to my flat in the late afternoon/early evening. According to Google, London’s sunset today was at 3:57 PM…so it really doesn’t have to be that late for me to call it evening now. 😉 I’m usually hungry right away, so I cook dinner and usually snack later. If I need to go shopping for boring grownup things, like food or toilet paper, I can do that as well. I don’t have much of a routine at home, but I started to go running more now that I’m not afraid of being out after dark in a big city! I’ve learned that if I go running where there are other people about, especially families, everything’s okay. I also joined a Christmas Choir at my new church, and we rehearse every Monday night for the carol singing we’ll have in a few weeks. I had been watching a bunch of Doctor Who (a popular BBC sci-fi television show that I started watching a few years ago…words cannot describe how much I love Doctor Who!) in my evenings to get ready for the big 50th Anniversary episode last Saturday. I also enjoy watching the BBC news on the telly (aka television) in my flat, reading A LOT of books for fun, writing in my journal, hanging out with my flat mates, doing art projects, and exploring Peckham. There are some other things around Peckham I’m looking into like book clubs at the Peckham library, and some community choirs. And since we live in London, there are plenty of things we can go out and do (museums, the theatre, music concerts) but since we teach energetic young people each morning, we stick around the Peckham area on the weeknights…unless there’s something extra special.
The bus ride to the Camden Markets a couple Saturdays ago…this is underneath the bridge at the Elephant and Castle tube station. This is the route I’ve gone running along, as well as the bus route to the Springboard main office or other Central London destinations.
WEEKENDS! Generally a combination of “playing tourist” in Central London, cleaning the flat, going to the grocery store, practicing my amateur photography skills with the camera I was given before I moved to London, movie nights and exploring with my flat mates, bringing tea to the library and enjoying the literary atmosphere while reading, visiting various coffee shops, exploring my neighborhood, going to church at All Saints Church in Peckham, doing art projects, shopping at markets, going to museums and galleries, letter-writing, talking with strangers, Evensong at St. Paul’s Cathedral, hanging out with other volunteers…and I’m looking into taking a lesson on how to ride a bicycle in London traffic! Also, I’ve discovered how fun it is to go running in the city. There is so much to see!! And I surprised myself last Friday by going for a five-mile run. On Sunday? Eight miles. I am a sprinter, not a long distance runner, so I’m just as confused as you are. Apparently, London has this magical ability to turn Emily Kimball into a long distance runner??
I love living here.
Adventure is out there! 🙂
Cheers! (British for “thanks! good bye! I toast to your health!”)
P.S. Please let me know if there are specific things you want to know about my experience. I love sharing stories, but I don’t always know where to start since there’s so gosh darn much to share. I’ve already received a request to talk about Christianity, religion, and spirituality in London and the UK (comparing and contrasting with the US)…but if there’s ANYTHING that piques your interest (from the more abstract ideas about gender roles or human migration or the British education system, to the more concrete things like how I do laundry or ride a bus or make tea) just tell me. 🙂