Alumni Spotlight: Zakiah Jaafar


Why did you choose this program?

I have always loved interacting and teaching young children. After gaining a year of teaching experience, I'd decided to put the skills learned to good use, hence volunteering with IVHQ.

I love how IVHQ has so many programs in so many places and the two programs that caught my eye are the special needs support and kindergarten project. So for a start, I took up the kindergarten project for a week in Bali, Ubud. The reason why I choose this program is that it allows me to have a taste of what it's like teaching abroad and it has always been a dream of mine to teach overseas for 1-2 years.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

It was my first time volunteering overseas and I was surprised at how much was done by IVHQ!

From airport pick-up to accommodation and meals, it felt like I didn't have much to do! The most basic thing for me to do was to buy my flight tickets and travel insurance. Even so, IVHQ would provide the option to have the team help me get those settled - though I did not opt for that, as I would want to experience a little bit of planning my own trip.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Definitely to do the program for at least 2-3 weeks!!

I did the program for only a week due to work and it was too short!! Just when the kids were warming up to me, I had to leave already :-( So if you want to have a more fulfilling experience, do it for 3 weeks; 1 week of orientation + 2 weeks of volunteering, but if you could have the chance to volunteer for a longer time, you should definitely do it!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

To start your day, you could have your breakfast before making your way to the school with the other volunteers (transport is definitely provided and it takes about 20-30 minutes to get there) would start with a nice breakfast prepared by Green Lion and afterwards, I would make my way to the school with the other volunteers.

Upon reaching the school, you would first sit in and help out in the lead teacher's class. They'd then have a recess for half an hour, the most exciting time because you'd get to play with the kids! After about half an hour of break, it'd be your lesson.

Time would go by so fast and before you know it, you would be making your way back to the accommodation. Before lunch, you would plan the next day's lesson with the volunteer that you are co-teaching the class, preparing any materials/worksheets if required. Then came lunchtime, when you could mingle and get to know everyone.

As you get to have the rest of your day to yourself, you could definitely plan to explore Ubud with the other volunteers!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I think my biggest fear is getting lost/stranded. I love exploring places and having adventures on my own but to do that in a country that's not home, it can be a little scary. But when I reached Green Lion, I was told that there was a taxi service right outside the accommodation. So I'd decided to give it a try and after reaching my destination, the driver offered to send me back when I'm done and I felt so relieved to hear that!

Since then, I would go out almost every day and I didn't have to worry about my transport because I knew I could count on the drivers. Plus, they won't get lost to find me because I could send them my live location via WhatsApp :)

If you could do this trip again, what would you change?

One thing that I think I could have done better in my part as a volunteer was that I could have brought new and interesting learning materials for the children to use.

When I entered the class, I'd noticed that some of their materials like crayons were broken, had missing colours, etc. So I think it would really make them happy if they had new materials to write/colour with :") Plus, it would definitely motivate them in their learning!