I spent a total of four months here and they were some of the best months of my life.
The Yayasan Widya Sari is a foundation that offers an after school program where children from the surrounding village can attend in order to learn English. But the school offers much more than just English learning; it is a place where the children can have fun, connect with each other and with people from around the world, and grow in terms of broadening their minds and futures.
I taught two classes, a group of 17-18 year olds and a group of 13-14 year olds. While each class brought its own challenges, the rewards outweighed the challenges. I had a co-teacher to help me, and together we were always able to come up with fun and creative lesson plans. All the volunteers were constantly helping each other out, no matter what class they taught, and the freedom to plan lessons however we wished really allowed us to teach in a way that was effective and comfortable for us. A curriculum is provided, but you are given freedom as to how you wish to teach it.
The most important thing to notice about this program though is that the children really benefit from learning English. Bali relies so heavily on tourism that learning English gives these students a leg up against their peers, especially those who come from such a rural village as this one. It really does affect the students' futures and allows them a chance at a better one.
Time before and after classes consisted of planning lessons, relaxing around the school, wandering around the village or the beach, connecting with the school's staff and the volunteers, and interacting with the children. Because the school is in the middle of the village, you are constantly surrounded by locals, by the children and their families, and it allows you to connect with them on a more personal level. By the time I left, I had grown so close with not only the students I taught, but all the children at the school. The students at the Yayasan are some of the most amazing group of children I've ever met.
This school is unique because you don't go to only teach English; when you teach here, you are immersing yourself completely in the culture. During my time here I was able to attend handfuls of Balinese ceremonies, learn how to Balinese dance, eat traditional Balinese food, shop at the markets, and overall become integrated into the life. The Balinese have such a rich and beautiful culture and I was really exposed to this; that made my experience even more meaningful.
The staff of the school are wonderful people and dedicated to the volunteers in every way. They treat everyone like family and always work together with the volunteers in order to support their ideas. For example, during my time there, the other volunteers and I were able to plan field trips for the students, a huge soccer tournament, our very own Holi Powser Festival, beach cleanups, and other things.
On the three day weekends you have the freedom to travel all over the wonderful island of Bali, which I would suggest doing as well. Bali has plenty of incredible places to visit and spend your time, so you will never be bored if you're willing to travel. I spent an even amount of time traveling and spending time at the school on the weekends and I was never bored.
The accommodations are great for the location of the school: comfortable beds, working showers, enough space for all my things. The meals are a definite highlight of the school; the cook is spectacular.
Overall, my time spent here whizzed by and if I could have stayed longer, I would have. I saw up to 16 volunteers come and go during my time there and everyone I worked with had a great experience.