Insightful 2 years in Indonesia

Impact: 9
Support: 9
Fun: 10
Value: 10
Safety: 9

Serving as a VIA fellow for two years at an education post in Yogyakarta really impacted my life. I like to think that I became wiser and more insightful about life during the years I spent in Indonesia, and that is something that has made my time volunteering so meaningful.

What I appreciated most about my post was given the trust to pursue activities and projects that I thought would fulfill students' needs and demands. For example, I noticed that quite a large number of students had an interest in going abroad but were not quite sure how to start the process. In response to this, I put together a two-weeklong program (one workweek in Yogyakarta, one full week abroad) to Chiang Mai which was met with great success. I also got VIA involved; we were able to coordinate my program's schedule with VIA's summer training. Even though we didn't run the same program again this summer because I was leaving, it warms my heart to know that this was a catalyst for smaller programs so that students are still able to benefit from an abroad experience.

It's already nerve-wrecking standing in front of a classroom, but try doing that in a different country where the culture is different. And as an educator, you put on many hats - facilitator, counselor, director, program manager, curriculum designer, proctor, etc. I learned a lot about the teaching profession. Learning-on-the-job while under mentorship from my supervisors helped me tremendously, and those skills that I learned have been crucial in allowing me to thrive in my current position where I teach at a high school. I look at every student and see so much potential in them, and that is what makes teaching such a rewarding experience. The results and effects may not be immediate but when the lightbulbs go off and you see the sparkle in your students' eyes because they understand something new, that feeling of pride and accomplishment is hard to beat.

Of course, there are times when I'm sure my students thought that my classes were challenging, that I gave too many assignments, that I asked too many questions, that I was too strict on formatting down to the font, that I was crazy in making them sing along to a punctuation rap, that I gave them a nonsensical poem to learn parts of speech; I'm hoping that years down the road, they'll encounter again the things that they've learned and remember to pass on their knowledge.

Overall, I highly recommend VIA, and the changing structure of the fellowship, in my opinion, will provide fellows with a greater experience. Fellows have a deep sense of purpose and are present at their posts and for each other. The small cohort size allows for a tight-knit family that could be hard to find in other similar immersion programs. VIA has staff based in the US and in Asia who are ready to assist within their capacity. You will impact the lives of the people who meet and work with, and they will also impact yours.

Would you recommend this program?
Yes, I would
Year Completed