I volunteered with ‘street children’ at a local school. The volunteers and I were welcomed with lays, blessed with bracelets, and milk tea. I spent my time teaching English, mathematics, playing, singing, dancing, and learning from the children themselves, as they taught me even more than I could ever teach them. After volunteering, we would head off to some more tourist activities such as, visiting the Akshardham Temple and watching their magnificent water show.
Our way of living in the West differs drastically from the way people live in India. As volunteers we saw incredible things we would have never imagined during our stay, such as how people really live in the slums. This was thanks to coming as a volunteer rather than as a tourist, which allowed us to immerse ourselves into the culture in a special way. We were able to see this unbelievably chaotic borough from the inside (even the inside of the houses!) thanks to the children (students from the school) who guided us through.
It was a trip I don’t regret taking! It’s the best if it’s your first time travelling alone, because there is 24 hour support and the mentors are so lovely and will pick up the phone whenever you need to speak to them. It was an amazing experience helping these kids and having fun with them, and also having a taste of amazing Spanish culture and living independently with roommates. It’s definitely something I would recommend for students in summer or holiday breaks.
I think what touched me the most was how even though I came to them with the specific intention of offering them food that we had prepared, and warm drinks, they were still sometimes shy to ask me for that extra teaspoon of sugar, or another cup of hot coffee...It was an absolute pleasure to help out the often disadvantaged community that exists in Sydney, to learn about their hardships and to see it all with the backdrop of one of Australia’s wealthiest and most beautiful cities.
"This is roughly how every day went, each one with little quirks and quiet achievements. I remember how amazing it felt to watch the kids learning and growing, even in such a short space of time while I was there – hearing them say my name, words I had taught them, singing songs I had sung to them or games I had taught them. I began to get to know and love the personalities of each of them, it was so gorgeous
During the second week I volunteered at the school where I played with children aged from 2 to 5. The children there were happy to see you and wanted to play with you. A lot of them wanted to learn English so in order to achieve that they would point at different things and smiled when you told them what it was.
It was truly an amazing experience. The coordinators were very friendly and accommodating and I learned a lot during my stay. Even though it was crowded, overall the program was great and I would recommend it to anyone. I’ll surely miss everything about Vietnam from its rich history and culture, food, friendly students, to the patients in the hospital who kept asking me if I’m Vietnamese. I’ll especially miss the lifelong friendships I had made.
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.
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