A Perfect Volunteer Program by Teaching in an NGO Primary School in Kuta, Bali
“During my volunteering in Bali, I learned to be grateful for the little things, to be happy every day and to never forget to smile. Indonesia especially Bali is an amazing place, it is meaningful to me and it makes me feel like I’m home”, Marion, Grammar school Geography and Psychology, Austria
First impression and first day at the school
When I arrived in Bali I have been very warm welcomed by Laura from Bali Internships. I was relieved as Laura told me, that she’s going to join me on my first day at school because I had no idea what was expecting me and of course I was quite nervous. I felt very welcomed by the teachers right from the beginning. The headmaster Miss Ary introduced me to all students, grade by grade. The students were as excited to meet me as I was. I have been welcomed by each one of the teachers and students and within seconds all my concerns were gone. I couldn’t have wished for a better, warmer, lovelier start on my first day at the school. We spent a lot of time together after class talking – there were many questions to be answered, questions about me and my country, the culture, the differences and what made me come to Bali already for the fourth time. These conversations made it easy to get to know each other and to become friends.
Due to my studies, I have already gained some experience working in a school and working with kids but the difference is vast. The relationship between the students and teachers is deeply special, kind and familiar and yet the kids show so much respect for the teachers. The days in school aren’t as well-structured as they are in Austrian schools, where I come from, this was quite a challenge for me in the beginning. This insight was new for me, especially because I thought that I'm quite laid-back-person – but I guess this is the European temper, so it took me a while to get used to it. Now it feels strange for me to go back to my-structured daily routine back home.
Days and tasks as a volunteer
The first few days, my co-volunteer and I were accompanied by the principal, soon she showed us full confidence, so we taught the assigned classes on our own. We were given the freedom on the teaching methods and materials as long as we stick to the study plan. Sometimes it was challenging to explain new topics (especially grammatical related subjects) to the students but with creativity and help from the students, we could playfully explain everything. I loved to see the kids moving around all the time, you barely see them on their phones. They dance, play marbles, play basketball, soccer or do yoga and they include you as soon as you enter the schoolyard. The extracurricular classes in the afternoon are highly rich in variety, the kids loved it and so did I.
My Bali life
I enjoyed every single minute on this little paradise on Earth although I knew Bali already inside out, due to my former trips to Indonesia. I enjoyed it even more because I had the chance to experience the real Bali life without being stressed to visit all the sights. When I'm not in school, I always go to Kuta Beach, Canggu, or Uluwatu to catch perfect waves. Surfing taught me to become more patient, conscious and calmer.
This program was just perfect for me because it’s a part-time project. It was a perfect mix between free time, preparing and teaching. Some days I started at 7:45 and some days I started around 10:00, therefore I could go surfing before work. Getting up early in the morning to catch some waves and watching the sunrise. I could not have asked for a better way to start a day – my dream came true.
During my time in Bali, I learned to be grateful for the little things, to be happy every day and to never forget to smile. Indonesia especially Bali is an amazing place, it is very meaningful to me and it makes me feel like I’m home. Bali once again is a little paradise on earth with very special people with a big heart, the people would do everything to make you happy.
Insights for future volunteers
It is important to understand a little of Indonesian language, therefore having an Indonesian-English Dictionary would be a plus. Of course, Google translate is quite good – and there are some quite good dictionary apps. Another recommendation for future volunteers would be: don’t be too serious – the kids wanna have fun while learning English, find a good mix between studying and games, the kids will love you if you can dance – and if you can't, you should give it a try :)
My last day at school was heartbreaking, the kids were singing songs and dancing for me which made it even harder to say goodbye so we unified that it’s not goodbye it’s a see you soon.