Learning to Teach in Jakarta

by Yanyi, H., Work-Study, IHF Jakarta

My second week at the IHF Jakarta Center has just passed. During this time, the most impressive thing for me is finding how hard teaching is.

I am assigned to teach English to SD1 to SD4, which means first to fourth grade, with children between 6 and 10 years old. These children always have endless energy and it’s definitely not easy to get their attention always focused on the class. Honestly, I was pretty worried at first, for I was not sure if I could successfully communicate with the children without Indonesian. But after one week, I found out that language is not what matters the most when teaching small children. It’s attention and patience. If I try my best to explain something to the children, no matter with simple English or self-drawn flashcards or body language or even google-translated Indonesian, mostly, the children willIMG_20140709_174443 understand me. However, this progress takes you so much attention and patience that you’ll definitely have more respect for all the primary school teachers after this. On the other side, thanks to the children’s energy, I can receive such active responses to my questions and requests in class, which feels really nice. So I guess the effort is eventually worthwhile.

Besides that, I also taught Mandarin and Art class for the first time, which are easier, but also fun.


Exploring Chiang Rai

by Guanjin, Work-Study, IHF Chiang Rai

Life here in Chiang Rai is a whole new experience to me. Since everything here is so different from where I live, there is a lot to get used to. Thanks to Joy and Esme!, they helped me a lot to get familiar with the Center and the village around. The Rain Season is coming in Thailand, so the weather became very humid and hot. This is kind of similar with the weather in Virginia, so I got used to it quite easily. And after the other work-study volunteer, Yuxuan, came here, we went to “explore” the place around and found a shopping mall, as well as a market, so I think I could get used to life here.

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The children here are very friendly and  kind. They always helped with preparing food and cleaning, and they are very polite. The youngest one loves watching movies in our room, and she will always come to our room in the morning and spend almost her whole day here. She’s good at music and singing I think, because she could easily sing along with any song she listened to, whether it’s in Thai or in other languages. Smart girl! People here are all very friendly and I like my first week here!

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A new day, a new opportunity in Nakuru

by Mary S.W., Work-Study, IHF Nakuru

The International Humanity is anything but stagnant. There is always something going on and something to participate in. From church, to football, to the farm, to the children’s exams, to fetching water and washing clothes, there is never a dull moment in Nakuru.

Despite unreliable Wi-Fi and the possible lack of ability to get online work done, there is always a kid knocking at the door ready to play or a chore that could become accomplished. In fact, the local hours are by far my favorite working hours here in Kenya. The more you reach out to the community, the more opportunities that arise, even amongst the kids. For instance, when spending time reading a book with a little guy who had been home from school for the week (who has been such a helping hand during his time at home), I was invited by him to go to Church with the kids, and little did I know that I would also be re-visiting the lovely people who had recently donated clothes to the kids the week before, learn how they experience church for the morning and evening hours, learn more of the near-by neighborhoods and get served a great rice plate for lunch.

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Likewise, upon my return home, another kid wished to catch up and allowed me the opportunity to come watch his football game the next morning. Through this time, I was able to see a new part of the surrounding Nakuru I would have never been able to experience before. In short, the secret to the sweet life is to seize the moment –seize the local community, seize your responsibilities and friendships with fellow co-workers, seize the time with the kids, and never forget to soak it all in with open eyes and an open heart!

You never know what opportunity or learning experience may come up next.

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An unforgettable experience in Bali

by Sweetie, Voluntourist, IHF Bali

Look, this is our accommodation. Even though it seems very small, it can hold five people. The sunlight is very beautiful, which makes our accommodation seem brighter. I love this feeling.


IHF is in Buitan, Bali, which is near the sea. When we go outside, we can feel the cool wind. What’s more, we can hear the sea every night. I feel very satisfied.


Everyday, I teach many lovely students. Although they are naughty sometimes, I love them all the time. I remember they love stickers very much, if we want to arouse the students’ interest, we can use stickers to get their attention. So funny!


Also, we quizzed the students to test their knowledge. If a student can get an A+, she/he will cheer and jump very high! When I see this, I am so touched!

These are our classrooms, we teach the students there. And every day, we use the Internet there too. Sometimes, there are up to five people using the computer there!

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On Saturday, we played games with the children. We were all very happy. Naike can play football very well, and when she plays, she is very charming. The faces on the children increased my feelings. I love IHF!

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One day, we went to Kintamani Volcano, we wanted to see the sunrise. It took us nearly two hours to get to the top of the mountain. We felt so tired. But when we saw the sunrise, we were shocked! It was very beautiful! We have never seen that before! Although climbing the mountain made many of us suffer, it is worth the experience. I think this must be the most unforgettable travel for us.


Giving back in Chiang Rai

by Yuxuan Z., Work-Study, IHF Chiang Rai

My first week at the IHF Center was amazing. I was not only refreshed by the peaceful and gorgeous scene in Chiang Rai, but I was also touched by the enthusiasm of the local people, especially the smile of our kids in the Center. While they are getting love and care from us volunteers, they are also giving back. The kids enjoyed playing with the toys I brought them, and they never forgot to ask me to join them when they prepared food of their own. I became friends with the younger kid, Chichi Porn, on the first evening when I arrived here.

We played the game “Hide-and-Seek”, taChichi Pornking photos of each other, and I was surprised to find that she could not only understand English, but also quite a bit of Chinese. We shared with each other how to say “I love you” in Chinese and Thai, and sang Chinese songs together.

After I finished cooking, she would give me the first bowl of rice; when I was washing dishes, she might suddenly show up and give me a hug from behind; after I finished cleaning the yard, she often brought me a cup of cool water to relieve the heat. That’s what I like about volunteering, you are never worn out because their lovely faces will cheer you up.

Being a volunteer is not new for me; but it’s the first time that I have devoted such intensive time and energy to an underdeveloped country, and that I have lived with children day and night. It’s hard to separate working hours from leisure time, since I’m always happy to dedicate myself to whatever needs to be done. And it’s also rewarding and enjoyable, as if I’m taking a fascinating holiday in paradise –Chiang Rai.

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Respect and ‘Fit in’ in Jakarta

by Yanyi, H., Work-Study, IHF Jakarta

I arrived at the IHF Jakarta Center on July 3rd. In the past days, the staff here has been incredibly welcoming and helpful, and the children are just so cute and heartwarming. But the most impressive thing for me is how they respect this place’s own culture.

One thing that surprises me is how wonderfully the Center’s co-Director, Helene, fits in with the local environment. It seems to me that she has almost no difficulty communicating with the people here, both in language and emotionally. Like, when we thought it was because of corruption that I was charged 35 USD for the VOA but only got a receipt for 25 USD, she got so angry about it, as only real Indonesians would. Fortunately, it turned out that the receipts were just not changed in time. Anyway, you can tell that she, as a member of the school, really feels for the people here.

Also, on Friday evening, we had a cultural event at the Center. Right now, Muslims are having Ramadan, the month of fasting, so we held a little ceremony of breaking the fast with about twenty children and some of their mothers together. Many took on traditional costumes and everyone sat together on the floor. It was really interesting and nice for me to join this special occasion with them. We had several kinds of Indonesian cuisine prepared by a lady working at the Center. My favorite one is called “Longtong”, which is rice wrapped in banana leaves.

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On the weekend, a friend of mine from Jakarta took me to the “Taman Mini Indonesia Indah”, which is a theme park that shows culture from different regions of Indonesia. Above all, I am just amazed at the diversity of Indonesian cultures. These cultures differ in architecture, life-style, religion and even language. And I am even more amazed at how Indonesians have kept this diversity until today, because it couldn’t have been easy and it will probably be harder due to globalization. It occurs to me that international organizations like IHF are not just helpers from the outside; by playing a role in education, they become a part of this country, no matter how big or small the part is. So, it is indeed vital to understand the importance of respecting and fitting in. And I think that in that aspect, what I have seen in the Jakarta Center is pretty respectful.

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The Warmer Side of Medan

by Ian, Voluntourist, IHF Medan

Medan is a beautiful city, though it’s my first time visiting here, I have felt the incredible hospitality of its citizens. Hot as the weather, people here treat foreigners with great warmth. It is more than easy to start a conversation with a stranger, even though they might not be very good in English. The natural beauties around the city are spectacular. With the help of the co-Directors at the Center, we have made it to two of the most famous touristic sites near Medan: Bukit Lawang and Lake Toba.

Our Bukit Lawang experience has been one of the most precious among many. I have enjoyed the rainforest like never before. Swinging in a pond and bathing in a waterfall is the wildest thing I have ever done. I just came back from Lake Toba, where the water is so clean that you can clearly see things through it. The weather there is cool, especially in the mountain area. The people in the island are very religious and there are chapels everywhere. The valleys are fresh and green. Streams follow everywhere. You’d never find a place so pure like this.


Though the Medan Center is not so well equipped, it is still cozy. The children at the Center are very cute and the cats are dedicated to keep the place clean. The kids are very eager to learn, though I found it a little bit difficult to communicate with them since their English level is still improving. At the beginning, teaching them English wasn’t so easy, as it is my first time as a teacher. But the more I experience, the better I can do.


My experience in the Medan Center this first week has been great and I believe there is more to come!

Getting used to ‘Kenya Time’

by Stone, Voluntourist, IHF Nakuru

Thanks to ‘Kenya time’, everything slows down. Maybe due to the lack of fixed time, fixed price and even traffic lights. People do things in no hurry. They even start to prepare for supper from the morning and do it all day.

But I gradually got used to the “Kenyan style”, including the food, the accent (-.-) and the always-crowded-by-kids room. Most of the time when we are in our room, there are always curious children, who come and see what we are busying with…so I decided to start a paper-folding workshop, which can be another thing that drives me mad (just kidding). But the kids are really nice and we know that they come to us because they want to stay with us. They draw me (with strange hairstyle and it doesn’t look like me, though), learn Chinese from us (they also try to teach us Swahili) and offer to help with the room cleaning (although they used up half of Alice’s laundry detergent…). Everything is full of fun while staying with them. When Manuel said he will miss us when we go away, I really wished I could stay longer.

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Endings and New Beginnings at Nakuru

by Nora, Work-study Medical Intern, Nakuru

This week, I, along with Alice and Stone, two other volunteers, went to Abraham and Moses’ track race.  It was very exciting to get to see this event in person.  The kids run so much faster than I could ever hope to, and they were barefoot and in skirts!  After suffering some muscle strains, Abraham was able to get second in the 3000 meter event, and Moses got third in the 1500 meter event.  Both of them qualified for the next race on Monday, and we are so excited for them!

One of our directors, Becky, has had her mom visiting for the past two weeks.  Last night was her last night here, so I got to experience my first goodbye tradition.  The kids were all dancing and singing. I tried to sing along, but they were just too good.  It’s rare that all the kids are in one place, united, so it was really lovely to see and experience it.  It was a lively room full of love and laughter and dancing.  It was sad to see her go, and we will miss her. However, another volunteer comes tomorrow and we can’t wait to meet her.

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My Days at the IHF Bali Center

by Vivi, Voluntourist, IHF Bali

I think it’s really lucky that my brother is studying at UNNC, because I had the chance to know about IHF from him! I was planning to have a vacation and, also, I wanted to do something more meaningful, so I thought, maybe IHF was perfect for me. And there you go, I came to Bali and I’m Vivi from China.

I arrived in Denpasar on June 29th, and it was my first time in Bali, but when I met Nancy and Ag​us, who went to pick me up at the airport, I felt familiar and close! And when I arrived at the Yayasa​n —the Bali Center, I knew that I’ve just joined a family!

It’s really beautiful here, the classrooms,the kitchen,the dinning room, the pool, the sea, everything seems perfect to me! Oh, and Hanna, Gregor and their lovely son Damian are really kind!

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June 30 was my first day to be a voluntourist, and it was also the last day for other voluntourists before they left, and four other girls came at midnight. In fact, I was really nervous, for it was the first time to be a “teacher”, I was not very confident that I could do it well, but you know, when you see the lovely students, you’ll soon forget the nervous​ness​.

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As you know, happy times always fly, and now I ‘be been a teacher for a week; I’ve taught ​or shadowed the classes: SD1, SD2, SD4, SD5, Junior and Senior, and I’ve made friends with the children! They’re really amazing, they laugh all the time. It seems that there are no unhappy things in their lives (even though they may not have a lot), and they make you laugh all the time, they make you forget all the unhappy thing​s in your life!

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I love ​it ​here! I ‘ll stay here for another week, but ​I have already begun to ​loathe the thought of leav​ing​: the beautiful scenery here, the good weather; and, mainly, it really upsets me the fact that I will have to part from the children.

The experience of being a voluntourist here is really unforgettable, and I think, I’ll take another chance at being a voluntourist in IHF ​once again, for sure!

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