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There is a very special thing about this population, you can form relationships without much conversation. Even though I speak basic Hebrew, it wasn’t enough to converse; however, I was able to make quick connections with the participants by engaging in the activities that they enjoyed i.e. jewelry making and card games.
I loved working in the garden, Shlomo was a great teacher. It was lovely being able to spend a few hours under the sun, working with such beautiful flowers; especially since I come from a big city! The plants grown in the greenhouse are also grown by the students, and they later sell them to raise money for the school. I also got to work with the animals, which was my favorite part. The school has chickens, geese, ducks, rabbits, birds, chinchillas, and more that I’m sure I’ve forgotten. I loved my baby goats the most!.
My favorite part of the day was on the way to the Old City when we passed a group of palm trees. Our guide made us stop and told us to look at all the trees. He asked if they were all the same and then explained how each palm tree was a tree that grew slightly differently. For me this was the perfect image of Israel, a place where everyone is growing separately yet still a unit growing and developing together. It made me realize that life is not about them or us, but about everyone just in different places.
We planted vegetation to help stop erosion, prepared plantings in our homestay, went on a six hour trek, visited a number of historical and Buddhist sites and experienced the culture with the Akha people almost continually throughout the week. The Akha are the most tolerant and accepting of others of any group I have ever met. As far as an immersion learning experience goes, it would be hard to match.
I do not have enough words to describe the depth of the experience. I only know that the people I’ve met have influenced my life and I strongly recommend volunteering in this village. They need lots of help in establishing educational center and the overall experience for the volunteers is one of a kind and very rewarding… I recommend it to all those interested.
In the Deaf and Mute school, I learned basic Indian Sign language and taught English and vocabulary, and did arts and crafts.When I went to the Community Center, the children were split up into 4-5 different classes based on their age. I spent time with the toddlers and 6-10 year olds. We had so much fun reading, spelling, writing, and counting.
In the mornings I worked with children from the Special Needs School in Udaipur, and in the afternoons I taught English in an after school community class. We took the special need children to the zoo and spent a lot of time doing crafts which they loved. As it was Christmas time we spent the last few days before their school holidays making a Christmas tree!
"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.
In the afternoon the volunteers would take the baboons down to the river and watch them play and socialize for about an hour. This also gave us time to socialize and become very close friends and family. The baboons would grab my legs and hands when they wanted me to carry them as we walked down to the river. This was my favorite part of the day.
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