It all started in a very unfortunate way. I was supposed to be present in the Jakarta center by 4:30 pm; however, due to several problems at the airport, I did not get there until 10:30pm.
Nevertheless, once at the Center, the co-director as well as other volunteers were so welcoming that I almost forgot what I had experienced. The food cooked by the house mother is awesome since it is not as spicy as rumored. I have tried some restaurants here in Jakarta, but the food at the center is still what I adore the most. Besides, I also have my own room which is quite simple, but really tidy and accommodating. The neighbors are very friendly too, they greet us whenever we meet.
However, it is the students that make the greatest impression on me. I used to work for a local organization in my country where I taught orphans aged 5-15 and organize some educational activities on the weekends for them, so handling naughty and noisy kids is what I expected beforehand. Yet, what strikes me is the fact that the children here demonstrate a great attitude towards learning and respect towards the teachers. They can be noisy sometimes, they may initially resist doing the exercises that they consider difficult, but in the end they do their best to finish their assignments, which was a total surprise and I appreciate it.
Just within the first week, I had a chance to attend several classes, both English and Math and organized an art class for weekly special activity held on Friday in which students learnt how to make a DIY flower for Mother’s day (the first Sunday of May). After hearing about the special activity, kids all appeared very excited and over twenty of them stayed after class and joined me. Sad thing it turned out too difficult for little kids to make a rose as instructed, so I thought they would all give up and just go home. But I was really taken aback by their great efforts to finish the tasks, just as they do on their classes. Some of the students even cried when they could not fold the paper as beautifully as they wished, some of them stayed quite late to decorate their work so that they could present it to their mom who was waiting outside. Some of the girls even stayed to clean the mess that we created.
Half a week have passed by with a lot of surprises and challenges. I am now really excited about what is going to happen in the following weeks. This few days have not only reached my expectations but it has even gone beyond what I imagined this experience would be. As challenging as it might get, this experience will absolutely be very fascinating and rewarding.
Nguyen Minh, from Vietnam