By Christopher, Work Study
So today’s post is a little bittersweet – it’s my final entry for Medan. But what an incredible final week I’ve had. Knowing that the last weekend would be busy, Medan co-director Lissa and I went to Lake Toba for a day trip on the Sunday. The co-directors, students and locals at the center always ask if you’ve ever been to Lake Toba and highly recommend it. I I decided to go and see it for myself. Apart from deciding to go there, the trip was entirely unplanned which made for an adventure. It was foggy so I wasn’t able to see too much of the lake itself, but the ferry ride, trekking and wandering about the small tourist village Tomok made up for it. I learnt more about local Bataknese culture, history and traditions and saw another part of Indonesia. It was a fantastic way to spend my last day off in Indonesia.
The rest of the week was focused around teaching my final classes. Around class times, I’d been working on a photo and film project that I had suggested to the media team. We had asked students to come along to some organized photo shoots and while at first few seemed interested, on the actual day far more students turned up than we had originally anticipated. The students were really enthusiastic, and such posers! They all made sure they looked cool or pretty enough in the shots. I was glad I took on the project and the kids were so into it. All of them are excited to see how they come out when I send them from Thailand. For the Special Activities class, more children than usual turned up to participate in more photo shoots and making the film. They all followed direction so well and were keen to see how each clip looked. Now I must take on the epic task of editing everything.
After three weeks at the center, everyone started opening up more and were far less reserved. I had gotten to know them a little better, meaning there were more opportunities for socializing. A couple of times, I went on motorbike trips for late night coffee and snacks with Lissa and Jenifer, the local volunteer, in Cemara, where Jenifer lives. I also spent an afternoon watching horror movies with some of the students before Halloween, as the students were very in to horror and local ghost stories or legends. I kept finding myself wishing I had stayed a little longer. I would definitely advise anyone thinking about volunteering with IHF, or any other NGO, to seriously consider staying for a longer period of time. There is so much you can do and help with and it takes the first couple of weeks to get to know the center, everyone there, and discover what you can actually do there that will be the most beneficial to them.
The week ended with good byes. A parent I had befriended invited the co-directors and myself over for dinner one night, to say thank you to us teaching her daughter and to say good bye to me. She cooked us an amazing dinner and we sat eating and chatting, with Lissa acting as our interpreter, as my Bahasa consisted of no more than ten words and the mother, Siska, was motivated to learn English but was still in the early stages. The following night, co-directors, local volunteers and myself were invited to dinner at co-director Aditi’s house. We got to see another part of Medan, meet her husband, and eat some home-made Indian cuisine.
The week culminated in the fundraiser Bake Sale that we had planned and worked on for two weeks. After creating and posting up flyers, we researched possible recipes and ingredients and the local volunteers and directors went out and searched for the required items and best prices. After figuring out costs and how much we needed to make, Saturday was spent with directors, local volunteers and students making all of the cakes morning, we set up a stall and sweets until late. Sunday at Merdeka Walk, made some posters and started walking around advertising the cakes and IHF with informational leaflets, T-shirts and postcards. We made a profit and managed to promote IHF. All in all, it was a fun, successful event, and the perfect end to a perfect final week.
My final night ended with some tearful good byes.
However, for me, I’ll still be with IHF for another three weeks. I’m moving on to the Chiang Rai center to see how differently things are done there.
My IHF experience has been amazing so far. I’ve made so many new friends and fantastic memories, but I’ve also been able to connect to a variety of interesting, like-minded people and learn so much about volunteering, NGO’s and management. It’s been a great starting point to gain experience, contacts and skills for future NGO work and I can’t wait to see what I learn and what I can give to the Chiang Rai center next.