Exploring Bali as a voluntourist

Written by: Eva, Voluntourist, Bali

My name is Eva, I’m a 53 years old teacher from Switzerland and I currently work at IHF Bali for four weeks as a voluntourist. When I arrived at the center, I was surprised that it’s located between a small Hindu and a small Muslim village. So every day I smell the smoke of the temple fire donations, and I hear the muezzin singing. I like that.

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After my first shock of my unfriendly bath and sleeping room, I was happy, that at least the kids have very nice classrooms with a nice view of the fields and the sea. And I’m also happy with our cook Sari – she is cooking very traditional food, mostly vegetarian, and although I like to eat meat and fish, every day I’m looking forward to her menu.

The teachers at the center work in similar ways as the teachers in Europe, supported by computers and wifi. That’s great – both are a part of the daily kid’s world. I’m teaching history and German in a Swiss High School, and I was a little bit nervous about my first team-teaching lesson. But it worked very well.

As a voluntourist, I love to explore Bali. I rented a motorbike, and the first trip I did was to Pura Besakih, the Indonesian „mother temple”. Driving through the landscape was so amazing and fantastic!

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During my second trip, I spent exited hours in Bali Aga Village in Tenganan, only ten minutes from IHF Bali Center. It’s a kind of museum village, where guests have to pay a donation for entrance. The village looks very traditional, and I was watching how the inhabitants prepare a wedding for the next day. The women rasp coconuts and make coconut soup; the men cut herbs and chili and slaughter pigs. I liked to watch it, even it was sometimes hard.

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On Saturday we had a special activity: Yoga! Me and the kids liked it a lot. On Sunday I was in Ubud, for rice terraces, culture, and River Rafting.

Learning to Teach

Written by: Kari, Voluntourist, Bali

My volunteer position is unlike any other position for IHF. I was partnered with IHF through a program called Accounting for International Development, an organization based out of the UK that partners accountants with nonprofit organizations in developing countries. This means that I am working with IHF as more of a consultant rather than a volunteer teacher. I look at the behind the scenes side of how the organization runs. Even though my role is a little different, living and working at the Bali Center puts my right in the action with all the kids and other volunteers.

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We have a large dining table in the downstairs area of the main house at the Bali Center. This is where I sit, along with the other volunteers, to complete most of my work on my computer. I work with Clara, the Co-Director in charge of finance, on day to day finances, and I am also in constant contact with other Co-Directors at all the Centers, as well as, Arnau, the Executive Director. Each day starting at around noon the students begin to fill the center with the sounds of laughter, playing and if you listen carefully, evening the learning happening upstairs in the classroom. Since IHF is an organization based around helping support these student’s education, I also try to help out teaching whenever I am needed. To be honest working with the student is a nice break from the numbers and computer work.

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This past week I played substitute teacher for an SD 6 class at the Bali Center. Being an accountant, numbers are my specialty not grammar. Therefore, before teaching I had to review the lesson plan prepared for class to make sure I wasn’t going to teach the students anything incorrectly. I was a little nervous going into the class, but the students were welcoming, cheerful and helpful when I needed help explaining things in Bahasa. We reviewed adverbs for the week, and had a blast making up sentences with all the adverbs they had learned. It wasn’t long before the students and I were joking and playing throughout the lesson.

This week I was honored and excited that the students asked about me when their regular teacher was back to teaching their class. I poked my head into class to say hi, and was welcomed by many smiling faces and cheerful hellos! We sang a round of “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” as they seem to love when I do the actions that go along with the song. I am glad I got the opportunity while I am here to work with the students. My role here is removed from directly working with the kids, therefore, it was rewarding and heartwarming experience to be part of helping these students out. It may have only been a few days of teaching, but it helped to remind me just what IHF is all about, helping students have a brighter future.

My First Weeks in Bali

Written by Kari, Voluntourist, Bali

I arrived to IHF Bali Center on the evening of Saturday October 1st. The center was very quiet since only the co-directors were living, the other volunteers had gone home the previous day. Agata, one of the co-directors, was very accommodating and showed me around the center, and gave me a quick tour of Buitan Village where the center is located. I was exhausted from traveling all the way from Chicago, IL so I called it a night after the tour.

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The next morning, I awoke to the noise of all the creatures that live with us at the center; lizards, mice, birds, bugs etc. It was Sunday, everyone’s day off, so the center was very quiet. I would quickly learn during the week the center is not normally a quiet place, but full of the sounds of kids playing downstairs and learning upstairs in their classes upstairs. I am not volunteering in the traditional teacher role at IHF, but instead I am helping with the accounting and finance side of the organization. Therefore, I do not have as much contact with the kids as other volunteers. The kids bring a fun and light energy to the center that breaks up my day on the computer. I am trying to interact with the kids even though I am not teaching. I even helped to prepare a special activity for the kids one day. We made Sharks.

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Bali Center is great not only for the support they give the community, but also for its location and all the amazing activities the island has to offer. In the two weeks that I have been in Bali, I have already learned how to scuba dive and climbed a volcano. Agata joined me for the climbing of the volcano. We left the center at 2am in the morning to arrive at the base of Mt. Batur by 4am. It was steep climb to the top, but we arrived with plenty of time before the sunrise. Based on the normal heat and humidity at the center, I would have never guessed I would feel cold in the all of the 2 months I plan to stay in Bali, but I was freezing at the top of the mountain. We enjoyed a hot coffee while waiting for the sunrise. A little shivering was worth the beautiful sunrise we saw.

I have six weeks left in my stay at the Bali Center. I am very excited to continue to learn about IHF Bali and the community surrounding the center. I am excited to continue to get to know the students who attend classes, and to explore more of this beautiful island.

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The End of an Adventure!

Written by Laura and Jessica, Voluntourists, Bali

We are Laura and Jessica, two Spanish friends from Barcelona. Today is our last day in IHF Bali Center and we would like to summarize our two weeks here. Our first week was focused on adaptation. It was hard for us because of so many changes and new things to learn. But after all, we successfully overcame all of the obstacles!

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This week we had plenty of activities in the center. We’ve almost attended all the classes and we have led three of them! On Wednesday we prepared a special activity for the children – “Table Games”. We introduced them to some famous Spanish games. First, kids had to draw their own “parchis”. They are very smart and draw two boards very quickly, without any problem! After that, we explained the rules of the game to everyone. Then, we split into two groups and played the game.We also prepared SD3 class with Agata’s help. She has been our reference at the center. If we had any problems she was always there to help and answer our doubts.

fullsizerender_2 For this class, we made some flashcards of different kinds of food. We enjoyed drawing and preparing them for the kids! Finally, we taught Junior class with Clara. It was focused on listening comprehension – students had to listen to a song and then fill in the gaps in the worksheet. It was a busy day, but it was a real joy for us to help as much as possible!

We’ve had a great time on Bali, balancing our time between the center and exploration of the island. For us, Bali has been amazing! This island is wonderful and people here are very kind and respectful. We really appreciated their peaceful and joyful lifestyle. They have a smile for everybody!

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The end of this adventure is coming, just a few hours before we have to leave the center. We think that it would have been better to stay longer than 2 weeks. We were just starting to feel confident with the students and the lessons. It’s a pity to leave now! We hope that the children have learnt something from us, for sure we have learnt a lot from them! They are really smart kids with a lot of energy!

Now we have to say goodbye, but we will always have Bali in our hearts!

A new experience with IHF in Bali!

By: Xinyu, Voluntourist Bali.

I arrived to Bali at midnight of September 15th, 2016.

Since it is too late for the center co-director to pick me up from the airport, I checked into a hotel nearby the airport. I was really excited about this trip and I kept imagining the IHF Centre I was about to visit tomorrow. Finally, at about 12 a.m. the next day, Agus and Manna arrived at the hotel to pick me up. Manna was really kind. She shared her experience of volunteering here with me and was patient enough to answer all my questions. On my way to the center I already felt welcome on Bali. Manna also took me to a store to buy a few things I needed.

This was the first sight I saw when I arrived at the IHF Bali center. The center is set up close to the beach and it is very beautiful: 3107fe0f0a11d06c

On reaching the center, I met Agata, Clara and David, the co-directors of IHF Bali, and few children drawing and plaing in the house at that time. They were really cute!

In the afternoon of my first day of volunteering we did many activities. We played hide and seek with the kids amongst other activities. I found it was very easy to get along with all of the kids, even though we come from different countries. I love BALI, and I am enjoying my volunteering days here, but there is one challenge I need to face every day – I am totally scared of lizards, frogs and bugs. Actually, I was crying on the first night, because I was scared by a lizard. Agata helps me a lot, we are living in the same house, her room is just opposite of my room. She told me not to be afraid, because none of those animals will hurt me. She is kind and make me feel welcome.

2d10f9110a419a78On the first day of classes, I gained a new experience. I met a lot of kids from different grades and classes. I tried to memorize their names at the beginning, but it’s hard. Students are like a little angels, kind and warm in their own style. They work hard trying to memorize every word Manna brings to them. We also play English board games. They come to me whenever they don’t understand something. I try my best to help them do some of their class work.

I feel that I made a good choice to volunteer here with IHF in Bali. It’s a fresh and beautiful experience for me.

I am in love with Bali and I am very much enjoying volunteering here.

My life in Medan as a voluntourist!

By: Wenwen, Voluntourist Medan

This is not the first time I choose to be a voluntourist with IHF, the first one was three years ago when I went to the Bali centre in Indonesia. And it was during that time when I made my mind that I would explore the other places as a voluntourist. So this year I came to Medan, where I met three other nice volunteers who made me wanting to stay here for a much longer time.

On the first day I arrived at the Medan centre with my friend Ling we were invited to attend a local wedding ceremony, which was really impressive. We were really interested in experiencing Indonesian culture. The bride and groom wore traditional attires and took pictures with all the guests invited. The person who invited us introduced the wedding customs to us as well as shared some traditional food with us.

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During our stay at the Medan centre, we got to know many volunteers. Besides co-directors: Teresa, Leti and Tony who are from different countries with different backgrounds, we still met many other local volunteers. The co-directors arranged the meeting with them for us. when we had dinner together, we just couldn’t stop talking about our country, culture and education system. One of interesting things I find here is that most of the people here are Muslims. They have totally different dressing code and religious beliefs than we and we respect that.

During the weekdays, Ling and I are helping tutoring the classes. The teachers here are all very caring and supportive, and sometimes let us get very involved in their classroom activities. Surprisingly, some children said they are very interested in learning some Mandarin, so Ling and I gave them a few Mandarin language sessions as a part of special activities. This week, we are going to do a presentation to introduce the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival to them. We really enjoy spending time with the children here.

img_2308During the weekend, we visited many tourist attractions with other volunteers, including, the big mosque, the temple, the waterfall and the Lake Toba. It really gave us a chance to get close to the nature. Compared to the life in my own country,  life here seems to be more relaxed and meaningful.

Education is Life Changing

By:  Sylvia, Voluntourist Jakarta

You might ask what difference can you make in two weeks? As a voluntourist in the Jakarta IHF center, I have been trying my best to help the center. Basically I work for four hours each day, and the timing of the work is unrestricted for voluntourist to arrange their time. With a flexible schedule, I work more effectively.whatsapp-image-2016-09-03-at-13-26-11
My main mission has been to simply make them understand the importance of education. I believe in the short term, my impact on these children’s lives is temporary. Therefore, I hope to mainly focus on my mantra, that education is life changing.  As learning is a life long process, I have been promoting the importance of education in these children’s lives.
whatsapp-image-2016-09-03-at-13-26-08Besides work, I have a day off every Sunday. I spend my time travelling with my friends to local destinations. I’m glad to meet friends and experience the Indonesian culture!
This summer of 2016, I am having the best summer of my life. I have backpacked to many countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, China and Mexico. Jakarta, Indonesia is my last stop for this adventurous summer! I will always remember every journey taken and all the people I’ve met along these trips. I’m very grateful to be part of the team in such a short time. So what are you waiting for, get out of your comfort zone and be strong, smart & courageous!
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My First Week With IHF Kenya

By: Xinxin, Voluntourist Kenya

A week ago, I arrived at Nakuru and started a two-week program at the IHF children’s home. This it the first time I have attended a volunteer program like this, so I felt nervous when I first arrived. When our car drove into the center, many kids gathered around and img_5316-1said “hi” to us. Some of them even helped us carry our luggage! It was really surprising to me that kids here are not shy at all. On the contrary, they are very happy to come up close to us. The co-director, Joyce, showed us volunteers around the whole center and our room.  The facilities at the center are quite basic, only few small blue houses and no hot water, but its actually very comfortable and able to satisfy our needs.

The kids are interested in geography and I happen to bring a book about geography with me! With that book, I img_5407taught them some basic information about geography and they seemed to be very interested in it. The kids here like to watch movies very much, especially action movies. We selected some movies and played one movie each day. To entertain them, we have also brought some board games to play with them. They really enjoyed those games.

I had a very pleasant time here. The children here impressed me a lot. They are kind, positive, and it can be seen that they really like us.  Co-director Joyce is fantastic. She helped us adapt and deal with everyday life here . Other staff at the center are also very friendly with us, and we appreciated it! It is a very special and unforgettable experience in my life. I will remember it forever.

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Adapting to IHF Bali

By:  Anabel, Voluntourist Bali

My name is Anabel, I’m from Barcelona and I’ve been a voluntourist in IHF center in Bali for two weeks.  The first week passed quickly, just getting used to the house, the other volunteers, the co-directors and the kids.
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At the beginning, everything was strange and not great in the center. Children are all from different ages, have different interests and difficult names that seemed impossible for me to learn. In addition, it was raining during the first days so it was dark by 6 pm. I was with seven other volunteers and felt that there was not much to do.However, same as the weather, things brightened up. In a few days I got used to my new room and shared spaces in the house, the food and my colleagues. Also, I started to feel less scared of the Balinese creatures living in the garden and around, such as the geckos. Most of the children came often to the center and I learned some of their names and ages. I realized that the children like painting and playing cards, while the teenagers prefer staying around by themselves. All of them like making shapes with paper, something that my Chinese colleagues were very good at and could teach them.
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Regarding the English classes, I became more comfortable after the first one. At the beginning I had only two classes with same group each week. Fortunately, in my second week I had the opportunity to do some classes with other groups, as one of the co-directors was gone and also I assisted in the computer classes. The more I was with the kids, the more ideas of games and activities came to my mind.  Also I felt that they were more comfortable to see me around and some even knew my name.  It was a very rewarding experience.

When I was starting to have a daily routine in IHF in Bali, it was time to leave. I wish to have stayed longer to spend more time with the children and know more about them and their lives.  I think IHF is doing a great job in Bali and I’m happy to have been part of it at least for a few weeks!

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Challenging and Beautiful Kenya

By: Song, Voluntourist Kenya

My name is Song, and I’m a volunteer from UNNC.  I came to Nakuru six days ago, and in these days I have learned that their living environment is very hard and I would like to try my best to help them.  The children here are smart and adorable and some of them work IMG_4901 (1)very hard in school.  They also play hard.  You can always find them playing soccer and competing against each other.  They love soccer very much and in fact, they are great players.

The first day I arrived here, I couldn’t believe that this was going to be the place that I would spend two weeks at.  I wasn’t very used to their meals.  However I have convinced myself to adapt to the environment and I won’t give up easily just yet.  This is my own choice and I should have mentally prepared myself better.  In the recent days, I have

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started to feel attached to the kids and we have had interesting conversations every day on the playground, during lunch time, or after dark.  When they are doing their homework, I also assist them with problems they are not sure about, like mathematics, English and physics.  Every evening, I prepare food ingredients for the next day with the other volunteers.  At night, I sometimes play movies for the children.  They are very excited about action movies.  I feel a sense of accomplishment when I see their lovely smiles and I always try to think of something fun to do with them.

This has been a very rewarding and meaningful experience for me.  It makes me realize to be grateful for what I have, and to grow from challenges. The experience I had here could never be obtained from a textbook.  I am glad that I made the decision to come to Kenya.

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