A truly memorable experience was refereeing two days of soccer. The monks truly love the sport and had a 2 day schoolhouse tournament, which I was requested to referee. The youngest monks were the spectators and cheerleaders, beating plastic bottles and plastic drums, cheering their houses on.They played on a small pitch dug out of the side of (literally) a mountain, the ground was dirt and the goals made out of metal poles. In two hours of soccer, I think I only had to give a single foul, which to me exemplifies the spirit of comradeship and gregarious nature of these incredible people.
In addition to the teaching, I got to work at an orphanage in Kathmandu. I cannot explain the affect of those astoundingly beautiful children. Just to hold a child in need of a hug. To feel a hand slip so readily into yours simply to feel love and affection freely given. To feel special to someone. It bursts your heart. Their delight in each other and what little they have is truly inspiring and I will never forget them.
At the orphanage we could do many things: construction, painting, building, playing with the children in the afternoon, and teaching English to Thai people. I taught English and it was the best feeling ever. It was extremely rewarding and my students were very thankful. They were incredibly sweet and very eager to learn. I felt a really strong connection to them and looked forward each day to seeing them again. It may sound as a cliché but I gained so much more than I gave. Volunteering at the orphanage gave me insight into the culture in a way I could have never gotten as a tourist. It really is waging peace through justice worldwide.
And of course, my favorite project, teaching English. You don’t need any experience at all because it is very basic stuff – such as going through the alphabet, counting, pointing at objects and saying the words in English. They mostly just appreciate you being there. Spending time with them was amazing and something which I will never forget and always cherish!
The look on my students' faces when they got the hang of a new English word was priceless. While the sights and sounds of Bali are intoxicating, the real treat is rolling up your sleeves and doing some good in the world. This project has a real positive impact – namely, giving kids a leg up in getting a job later in Indonesia's growing tourism industry. If they can speak English, it will be easier for them to make money for themselves. On my last day, I told my students to study hard so that some day I might come back and speak to them in English fluently.
Volunteering in Indonesia was more than a simple experience, it was an opportunity I had to challenge myself as I have never done before. I have met some of the most interesting and passionate people on the planet and shared with them my life, my interests, my pictures and my dreams. Together we had the unique opportunity to discover the country, its people and its amazing environment from the privileged viewpoint of a volunteer.
I couldn’t imagine how those township kids’ childhood would be until I participated in their life. We had a totally different life with them. Finally I realized how happy and lucky I am and I’ve never felt regret to join this volunteer experience. I could deeply felt the happiness during my trip and I felt that it’s more blessed to give than to receive. I did learn a lot and also received a lot during the volunteering trip.
Teaching women through the Women’s Empowerment program, I was able to deeply connect with the Nepali women I worked with, even considering the huge language barrier between us. It was a joy and honor to teach them. I We spent the lessons laughing and actively interacting with each other, ensuring that they were learning as much as possible. It was very hard to leave them after three weeks. In such a short time, they embraced me into their world.
When I arrived in Cape Town, I was positively surprised by how welcoming not only the staff but also the volunteers were. I had no problems at all finding new friends and engaging with everybody around. The average age was about 21, even though there were exceptions with ages ranging up to 65! I was immediately briefed on the project and on what to expect from it and never felt lost at all.
I was the first intern to work at this placement as a Medical Social Worker, so it took some time to feel out what my role would be. As I mentioned, my supervisor gave me space to work independently often, but was also available to check on the progress of my work, as everything was conducted in Spanish.
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