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My Travel Teaching Journey as a Senior Volunteer in a Public School in Gianyar Bali

“I miss the peacefulness of Bali. I found the nonmaterialistic values great for the heart. We should all live like this. But it is so hard to recreate this feeling in a capitalist society.” Genevieve, Communications and Marketing Director of L'Espace creatif, Lanaudiere, Quebec

My preparation prior to my volunteer journey in Bali

From the very beginning of the process, before I found out if I was selected as a Volunteer with Bali Internships, I found the approach very professional. All along with Skype the interview I felt secure to go forward. It was my second time in Bali, but my first time traveling on my own without my family members. I was scared to be too old, but my hosting family, as well as the school staff, made me feel so comfortable right on the first day.

In real life, I am a Communication and Marketing specialist, but I wanted to do something different this time, and of course, give the best of myself to make the kids grow and learn in a funny manner. As soon as I found out I was selected, I started thinking of creative ideas for teaching. So, I brought a lot of materials: English books, art supplies, and I printed out role-playing dramas (science lab, ice cream bar). All of these have been so helpful while I was teaching. The kids loved it, and I found myself very good at taking over a whole class for more than two hours. I would adapt myself easily to the degree of understanding of the kids. But, in some ways, from grade 1 up to grade 6, they would love it and play differently.

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My first week, getting accustomed to my role as a volunteer-teacher

First, I would like to mention the high level of professionalism from all the resources involved in my volunteering efforts, from the beginning until the end. I felt home right on the first day with my hosting family in Gianyar, Bali. I had the opportunity to visit the school one day after my arrival, on a Saturday. This unofficial visit has given me the opportunity to meet the kids before I really started. It made me feel more secure to be introduced to the staff and also to know the environment before I start teaching.

I really felt confident when I realized that all the students were enjoying my presence and that they were actually learning a lot right in the first week. I would say that from Day 1 I felt part of the team. I also cherished the fact that Ibu Agung gave me the chance to take a whole class on my own. She would come now and then to see if I needed her support. This made me feel good. I really liked the creative aspect of the work. I also found myself really good at improvising upon their strengths or weaknesses of the group. After a couple of days, I had a proper nickname "Mama Gen", and this made me smile every time.

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My first weekend as a solo traveler in Bali

This was significant for me since I was traveling on my own for the really first time. I spent the first weekend in Ubud and stayed at Monkey Forest hotel for one night. I plunged into the infinity pool and admired the beauty of the rainforest around me. Driving in Ubud in the early morning gives you the chance to see the monkeys jumping around with no cars obstructing you. I did some nice shopping, visited the Goa temple, and got to see the Barong dance at the Sawarsati temple on Saturday night. It was amazing! My second day started with an in-room service for my breakfast. I chose the banana pancakes with a colorful fresh fruit platter, coffee and, watermelon juice. Yum! Then, I went walking in the rice fields, had a delicious coconut cappuccino and discovered the market, where I found nice souvenirs.

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My daily activities and roles as a volunteer

Every morning, Ibu Agung and the staff teacher would agree on the two groups I could see. She would introduce me to the classes and stay for a few minutes. During my time volunteering, I was teaching through gameplay such as Bingo games (about actions), giant dice (practicing the action), or even role-playing (science lab, ice cream bar), and spinners (for emotions). During my last week in school, we did many art projects and dance classes altogether. It was one of my favorite weeks. During this time I also had the chance to learn how to pray, as well as to play some of the children’s favorite games. I felt that teaching was more like an exchange between me and the kids. At noon, I would finish the teaching part. In the afternoon, I was getting ready for the next day or sometimes I would prefer doing my preparation for the weekend. The entire time of my volunteering in the school, I never felt lost or uninterested.

I really loved getting involved in all the ceremonies I have been invited to. Ibu Agung's family is very welcoming and they look after you. I rented a scooter right in the first few days. I could not have lived without since my village is far from Ubud. Every day, I would go eat in Ubud since cooking was not easy for me due to the minimum equipment in the room). Do not hesitate to take Ibu Agung out with you, she is so fun to travel with. They became my second family. I went to Gili Air with Ibu Agung and her youngest son. It was amazing! I even swam with turtles. The only worst experience I had was getting annoyed by a dog at night while trying to find my way back home. I definitely want to come back to Bali and would recommend it at 100%!

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My return home and what I have gained after my volunteering in Bali

I am back home now, and I miss the peacefulness of Bali. I found the nonmaterialistic values great for the heart. We should all live like this. But it is so hard to recreate this feeling in a capitalist society. Although, I enjoy the comfort of my house since I am back home. My family room in Bali was nice but really basic.

I will surely go back to Bali soon since all these beautiful faces and smiles are still shining into my heart!

Did you get inspired by Genevieve's story?