Twenty eager faces stared at me in anticipation. The vickyflipfloptravels.com homepage was projected on the classroom wall bigger than I’d ever seen it (damn my balls and boobs post), the sounds of children playing outside was filtering in, but the air wasn’t, and I was sweating with panic.

Turns out they’re not interested in WordPress in Zanzibar – Blogspot is their blogging tool of choice – and so the next 89 minutes of my presentation on ‘How to Use WordPress’ were looking a tad bleak.

Volunteering in Zanzibar
Why do I get myself into these things?

I was visiting Zanzibits Multimedia NGO for the afternoon as a volunteer to talk to staff and alumni about about how and why to set up a travel blog and how to use social media to promote it. I’d already been ‘relieved’ of around £30 from a local for taking me there as I was in a rush, and I was 15 minutes late starting because the students just kept on arriving – I was feeling the pressure.

On arrival I was greeted by thick bars on all the doors and windows. My guide beckoned a teacher over to find out where I should go and all the little kids inside were straining in their seats to look at me.

And so, my first foray into Blogspot began at Zanzibits in Stone Town, Zanzibar, in front of a classful of students. Not the way I would’ve liked it, but using my blagging skills and a touch of travel blogger’s intuition I did manage to help one guy change his menu headers and another to change the colour of his background as a filler until I worked out what to do with everyone else.

Volunteering at Zanzibits

Two minutes later I’d conjured up a ‘Why You Should Use WordPress for Blogging’ presentation and just decided to ad lib every slide that I’d carefully put together before I left London.

Program co ordinator Salama had already warned me to slow down my speech, so… I… tried… to… talk… like… this… At least it gave me time to think about my next slide…

It’d been a while since I’d been in a classroom, but it seems they’re the same the world over. Desktop PCs were strewn across the desks and whiteboards adorned the walls. They’d moved the tables to the sides and lined 15 or so chairs up for the staff and alumni in anticipation of my arrival.

Once I’d got started the first 15 minutes whizzed by in a sweat and a stress – heightened by the fact it took at least 60 seconds to open a web page thanks to the East Africa Wi-Fi. I decided it would just be easiest to work through the back office of this site explaining each function step by step rather than any structured presentation.

I explained the basics, fascinated them with my plugin knowledge – “there’s a plugin for that” – and decided to quickly skip over keyword research.

Zanzibar volunteering

After 30 minutes I actually began to enjoy my first presentation on travel blogging. All the students seemed interested and I was able to answer all their questions, to a degree.

Outside the call to prayer started and I paused to see if any of the students needed to leave, but it seemed like they barely noticed it.

And just as it was all going well, I got too cocky with my gesticulations and knocked the power cable out.

Waiting for the computer to start up again only reignited the sweats. I smiled apologetically trying to think of a filler…

“Any questions?”

“Yeah, what’s the point of Twitter?”

Errrrrm.

I tried to explain the community, the promotional opportunities and Twitter as a news source, but I was met with blank faces. So I moved onto everyone’s favourite; Facebook. From opening an account to using page insights, I explained it all.

volunteering at zanzibits

An hour and a half later and I was finished, and exhausted actually. I handed out my business cards – welcomed with lots of excitement – and of course told them to add me if they needed anything. We said our goodbyes and I walked out of there a different woman to the panicky, sweaty one that walked in the room.

Next stop, TBEX…

Big Night Out at Vuvuzelas in Paje, Zanzibar
Crazy Mzungo's Flashpackers, Zanzibar