The story of Louise, our Volunteer English teacher on Reethi Beach:  

If you say the words ‘The Maldives’ to most people, they would conjure up an image of beautiful white beaches, clear blue waters and breath-taking islands. In the two months I have been working as an English teacher on Reethi Beach, a four star resort in Baa Atoll, I have found all this to be true, but there is much, much more to these paradise islands.

Bored with my nine to five job and seeking adventure, I jumped at the opportunity when I was offered the chance to work with Volunteer Maldives, an organisation that offers a variety of projects and development programs to benefit the island communities. 

I am teaching the resort’s staff, everyone from the bar staff to waiters to those from the engineering and security departments. The majority are men, but there’s a real mixture, with ages ranging from teenage up to those in their 50s, some with very good English, some with very little.

The staff are a mixture of mostly Maldivian, Indian and Bangladeshi and all have been completely welcoming and friendly from the start, both in lessons, around the resort and in the staff area where we all live.

Teaching here is challenging and rewarding. The students all work hard in their various roles in the resort and take time out of their working day, or spare time, to come to lessons- it’s important to try and keep them interesting so they want to come back!

The short walk to work each day is picture perfect, with glimpses of the Indian Ocean through palms and a forest of lush greenery- it makes the commute more than bearable.

Although I am living and working on the resort, I have had the chance to experience life on a ‘real’ Maldivian island, spending time living and working on Kihaadhoo, a nearby local island.

Living in a traditional Maldivian house and teaching in the island’s school, my time on Kihaadhoo allowed me to be completely immersed in Maldivian culture.

While at the school I mostly taught Grade 10, the eldest students who are preparing to sit their final exams.

I found the experience really rewarding and the students were brilliant to teach.

I was also treated to a barbeque on the beach with the other staff, with fish caught fresh from the ocean by some of the teachers.

The people of Kihaadhoo were warm, friendly and completely welcoming- even a tsunami warning didn’t seem to dampen their spirits. 

But it’s not all work. Although I spend a lot of time planning lessons, free time can be spent on the beach, at the pool or snorkelling and exploring the stunning house reef that surrounds the island.

I also had the chance to take part in Earth Day 2012, when a group of staff and guests spent time planting palms and other trees on Veyofushi,one of the uninhabited islands near the resort. With tidal erosion being a problem, the tree planting we did on Earth Day will help ensure the future of the beautiful deserted island- how many people can say they have done that?

Working here is probably a once in a lifetime experience for me and it is the people of Reethi Beach, the staff I am teaching, who are making being here such a fantastic experience.

Louise Nicholson, Volunteer English teacher on Reethi Beach, May 2012