In December 2016 I heard about LRTT from a colleague in Guernsey (a small, beautiful island in the English Channel for those that may not know). I was 5 years into my teaching career and was feeling like I had lost sight of the reasons that I had become a teacher. After signing up, I joined a group of us in Guernsey that were also doing LRTT. We got together to fundraise the costs of the programme. It was very exciting. We appeared in the local paper and on TV to raise awareness of what we were trying to achieve. We also arranged a Ceilidh (kay-lee; a gathering) to raise more funds together, which was a huge success. I didn’t know this at the time but this was the first thing that LRTT gave to me: three new life-long friends that I feel exceptionally lucky to have in my life.

Joanne, front, participates in a classroom icebreaker with her team and Ugandan teachers she worked with

When I arrived back in school I was like a new person. I was filled with ideas and inspirational stories to share with my colleagues and students about my teach abroad experience. I set up a charity club with one of my colleagues who had been to the Nepal Fellowship. I also took the lead on fundraising for our school’s partner school in Tanzania. My work/life balance was better than before but there was one thing that remained the same — I was not at home near my family. This was really amplified because I, unfortunately, lost my cousin the day before I left for my Fellowship; this really affected me. After this and my Fellowship, I started to notice how many things I was missing that were important to me: my cousin’s funeral, my nephew’s 18th birthday, the birth of my best friends first baby. My time in Uganda made me realize that I needed to prioritise my family. This led me to handing in my resignation with no job lined up. It felt liberating to not know what was coming next, I just knew I was going home.

Joanne with her LRTT group

Luckily, my sister found a job for me to apply for which seemed like the perfect job for me. At the start of the New Year I had a series of interviews and have now been appointed as the Head of an International Summer School in the heart of the Lake District in the North West of England. Although I will no longer be in a teaching position, I feel that this is the kind of position that I will excel in. I feel as though my experiences with LRTT over the summer really helped and inspired me in my decisions and the experiences that I had will continue to influence my future. I am so excited about my new job and I cannot wait to get started in April.

Joanne participates in a word game with her fellow teachers

Written by Joanne Dodd

LRTT Uganda Fellow


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