Why did you choose this program?
I spent one month in Bali in 2018 and I fell in love with the exotic island of Gods and its wonderful people, hence I made a promise to myself and decided to go back a year after to give some of the kindness and helpfulness back to their community.
I have always been interested in teaching; however, I have never done it in a classroom before. Therefore, for me, the combination of traveling and volunteering with IFRE as an English teacher seemed to be a perfect opportunity.
What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?
During the process of my online application, everything went smoothly; I was given all the help and support that I needed.
The in-country coordinator Komang was more than just a support for us: he took us to a traditional Balinese wedding, showed us the most beautiful authentic parts of Bali and was there whenever we needed him. He was also really flexible and helpful when we wanted to change our accommodation or had any other questions.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
My advice to other volunteers is to be really open-minded and take every opportunity you have to get involved in an authentic cultural experience. Nothing compares to the feeling of getting to know multiple different cultures, religions, people and their stories. It also truly is a wonderful thing to see how huge an impact you can make just by teaching English in a primary school.
What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?
We were teaching from Monday to Friday, three classes per day in a primary school in Bali. The entire school had one English teacher, Miss Surya, and we were assisting her from 9.30 until 12.30. The students (age 6-12) were really respectful, energetic and lovable, and all the teachers we met were very helpful and amazing.
We had breakfast and lunch cooked by a wonderful Balinese lady and had our meals nearby the school which was approximately 30 minutes from our accommodation and organized by the in-country coordinator, Komang. The program does have accommodation 5 minutes' walk from the school; however, I and my friend decided to stay somewhere else as that place suited us and our needs better.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
My biggest fear was being alone in a far-away foreign country. Luckily, one of my friends joined me on this journey and that was a great help. However, the organization and their in-country coordinator in Bali do give you all the support and help that you need. Though, if you are planning to volunteer on your own, and you do not like being alone, this might not be the best option for you.
As IFRE is a smaller organization, they spread out the volunteers all over the island, hence do not really expect to meet with other volunteers.
What did you like the most during your stay?
The first five years are crucial for children’s cognitive development. During these early years and even after, children have the ability to pick up, process and understand languages much quicker.
That’s why I’m more than thankful I could be part of these wonderful, energetic and lovable Balinese children’s journey of learning English as a second language.