For my second semester abroad I chose to do a volunteering mission and I decided to do it in Bali because after seeing a little bit of Hispanic culture I really wanted to learn about Asian culture and help people at the same time. I chose Bali because I wanted to do it in South-East Asia and I heard about the organization Slukat Bali because others from Ipag went there before. For me it was the perfect occasion to discover a different culture, to push my limits, to think about something else than my comfort and above all to learn how to live 24/7 with people. My mission consisted of teaching basic English to the Balinese kids.
Presentation of Indonesia and Bali
Indonesia is a located in Southest Asia, with some territories in Oceania. It’s the world's largest island country with more than thirtheen thousand islands (include Bali, Java, Sumatra). Bali is an island and province of Indonesia. Even if Indonesia is in major part Muslim, around 80% of the Balinese are Hindu followed by smaller Muslim, Christians at and Buddhists communities. Bali is a popular tourist destination since the 1980s. Tourism business is like 80% of its economy today and Bali is one of the wealthiest regions of Indonesia. This island is renowned for its food and culture highly developed in arts, including traditional and modern dance, sculpture, painting, leather, metalworking and music. In term of landscape Bali is famous for its volcanic mountains, rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs. Bali is part of the Coral Triangle, the area with the highest biodiversity of marine species. The island is home to religious sites, such as the Uluwatu Temple. In the South part, there is Kuta with its many lively bars. The cities of Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua are also popular seaside resorts. Bali is also known for its spiritual retreats, including the practice of yoga and meditation.
Slukat Learning Center
Slukat Learning Center (SLC) is a registered nonprofit organization that provide free after school education for the children in the Gianyar region. The center has many programs such as Computers classes, Environmental Awareness, Yoga, Traditional Balinese Dance, Swimming classes but the main program is English teaching.
The center is managed by the founders, the family of Mr. I Gusti Agung Rai and I Gusti Ayu Darsini whom built this place in 2007. They believe that these children will be able to have a better future with this opportunity. English Education is the most valuable gift they can give to them because it’s the key for interacting with people of all nations in this area of globalization. Before SLC, there was no free English classes for underprivileged children in Gianyar. SLC help them by developing their English, computer and communication skill. This classes will also help to build their character, opening their mind, teach them about compassion, integrity, and entrepreneurship which is also very important for their future life. Through these programs, SLC hopes that these children will gain self-confidence, have a higher level of integrity and will care about environmental issues. The politic of the center is also based on the needs and the ideas of the students. At the end of each month, we ask the students about their thoughts and if they have recommendations so we can improve the classes. Also, at the beginning of each month, the staff and the volunteers have a meeting about the improvements that need to be done in the center.
There are around 150 students in SLC that comes to assist the classes. They are between 8 and 20 years old, and come after they finished school or work. The center also provides night classes where older students or workers come to improve their English skills.
The material conditions
SLC is located in a very small village (Keramas) so there is literally nothing around it beside a yoga center, a small gym center, some local small shops… It’s very exotic, there are only fields, trees and a road so if you want to find a supermarket, a shop or a laundry you have to go a little bit further and by scooter because it is almost the only transportation here.
For the accommodation I live with the other volunteers on the center. I share my room with just one other volunteer and we have our own bed, a closet, air conditioning and a bathroom with toilets in our room. The only thing is that we don’t have warm water but you get used to it with the time. I am quite happy with my accommodation because I was expecting maybe something less “comfortable” like sleep in a kind of dorm with at least two other people. There is also a kitchen where we can cook and WIFI in the center. The breakfast and the dinner are provided by the staff of the center. It’s western breakfast like bread, chocolate spread, jam, cereals etc and Indonesian food for dinner. So, for the lunch we have other options: we can buy some products and cook them in the kitchen or we can order food or even eat somewhere else because the lunch isn’t provided by the organization during the week. On the weekend we have to figure it out by our own.
For the budget and the money that I spend here it really depends on what I do during the week, if I go out on the night and if I travel during the weekends. The money in Bali is the Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) and 1 euro is approximatively equal to 16 700 IDR. So, I will say that during the week I could spend easily less than 80 000 IDR (4-5€) and on the weekends, it can increase to 600 000 IDR (36€) – 1 000 000 IDR (60€) if we travel around Bali so that includes the transport, the food, the hotel and the activities for 3 days. I didn’t rent a scooter because my family and I think that it’s dangerous and I am afraid to drive one but I always arrange myself with the other volunteers to go with them on their scooter when we go out or do something.
My integration in SLC
When I first landed to Bali, I was welcomed by two members of the staff that came to pick me at the airport. They immediately seemed very nice and friendly. Then, when we arrived at the center they showed me the all center with the different classes and they told me about the rules, they explained to me how the center worked, the classes and made me sign the contract. I really saw the family spirit when I came here. About my adaptation here, I found that it was quite easy when I think about it even if I had to deal with some little things. First, I thought that I will sleep in kind of a dorm with other volunteers but it was nothing like that. I just share my room with one other volunteer so it was better than I expected. I also have this capacity to adapt myself very quickly in a new environment so it took me less than a week to do that and I didn’t really feel the jetlag. After two classes of observing I was ready to teach my first class and I liked it a lot
The little things that I had to deal with and stepped back was all the animals that live here in Bali and in the center (because the center is surrounded by trees and grass) like big exotic lizards, big spiders, rats… And since I had arachnophobia it was hard at first but I learned to live with them and now I can sleep knowing that a couple of spiders is in my room.
Moreover, we arrived at almost the end of the rainy season so sometimes it rained very hard and we had to adapt ourselves to this new tropical weather. It was rough at the beginning so I felt tired very quickly but then my body adapted itself to it and it was ok.
I also immediately adapt myself to the daily life here in Slukat like preparing the classes every day and be creative so that the students won’t be bored and always be attentive.
My missions and how I managed to accomplished them
My principal mission in Slukat is teaching English to the local kids here in Bali but sometimes I teach them computer classes. I also did cooking class with them and we use the Slukat kitchen for that. The center recommends us also to teach them about the environment and how preserve the nature. One day we went at the Keramas beach (the nearest beach from the center) and we cleaned it with our students because it was full of trash.
About the classes, every week we need to check the schedule posted in the office to know which class we are going to teach from Monday until Thursday. It may change depending if there are some new volunteers coming, when there are holidays for students or days off for the volunteers.
During my time here, I taught to 5 different classes in Slukat and I went to the public school until May because they had exams after that. I used to teach to the 4th grade on Tuesday morning and 5th grade on Thursday morning at the public school. In Slukat they are divided by levels and it goes from the Basic 1 level until the advanced one. I taught to 2 Basic classes that are between 9 until 11 years old and 3 Intermediate classes that are between 13 until 16 years old. So, I had to teach to different profiles and find different methods for each class because you can’t teach to a 9 years old kid the same way as a 15 years old teenager. After the class we must fill the folder with comments, remarks, what we did during the lesson or what we should do the next class so that the staff knows about it and so that we can improve ourselves and I think it’s very useful to do that.
The difficulties encountered to succeed and the final results
I encountered some difficulties but it was never a huge problem to face them.
First, I think the main problem was the lack of comprehension between my students and me because English is not their mother language and Bali isn’t known as an English-speaking country. This was a problem especially with the Basic classes that I had because most of the time they didn’t understand me and understand what I wanted them to do. So, I had to be creative with them. Most of the time I spoke a lot with gestures and it helped. The most difficult part was when I went to the public school to teach English there because I am not a “real” teacher so I wasn’t trained for that. When you are in front of 30 young kids (between 8-11 years old) and that 95% of the class can’t even make a correct sentence and doesn’t understand you at all I can tell you that it’s hard. So, I had to find strategies to make them learn English, to make them respect me and to keep them focused the all hour.
To be respected all the time by my students was another problem. Especially at the public school. First, they never had a western teacher in the school where I taught and you want to be nice with them so they may take you for granted because they think they are allowed to do things now that their English teacher changed. That’s where I learned how to balance my actions.
Another difficulty that I had to deal with was their lack of self-confidence and their shyness. I think it was even the biggest problem. The thing is that it didn’t matter their level or the place (at Slukat or at the public school) they were so afraid to be judge by their classmates or by me that even when they understood me when I asked them things they didn’t reply me.
Moreover, the thing that could be a problem sometimes was the very large number of reasons that kept the students from coming to the center. Most of the time it was because of the religious ceremonies that happened a lot in 4 months. It could be also because they had exams so they had to study at their home and skip the Slukat classes or because of the hard rain that stopped everyone from doing their things. I had a lot of days when only one or two students came so I had to deal with it and improvise a class for them because I couldn’t do the same content that I prepared for the whole class.
What I take from this semester
At first sight, it could seem that doing a volunteering mission as an English teacher has nothing to do with my studies because most of the others from my school did an internship in a sector that they may work in the future. Contrary to this idea, this experience helped me a lot on various scales.
First, it has improved so many of my skills and I didn’t even noticed it. As I spoke all day in English during these four months I just realized that I improved my oral a lot and as I taught English I really did improve my pronunciation and grammar.
You may think that being a teacher can be easier than an accountant for example but actually it requires a lot like motivation, patience, organization, managing skills, creation, confidence, be aware of anything…
Furthermore, kids aren’t always nice and respectful, especially at this age so I had to be confident and strict sometimes to make them respect me because as soon as they see that you are weak or that you let them do anything they will misbehave. That’s why you need a managing method that works.
Bali taught me the word “patience” more than anything. It’s here that I learned how to step back and keep calm in any situation and I think it’s a good skill to have in the professional world.
Also, when I think about it, all these skills that I learned here are really going to help me in my future life. I would even say that there is a link between my volunteering mission in Bali and Ipag Business School. Ipag teaches us how to speak English and I improved this skill here but besides that, in our future career we are meant to be managers, CEO or any kind of leaders. In other words, we will need all these skills to bargain with international clients, to be able to manage, motivate and lead a team work. That is where I found the link with the Ipag training.
I learned so many things of my experience here in Bali and not just with the volunteering part. I realized that I grew so much here and that I learned a lot about myself.
To begin I will say that living in the real countryside and far away from everything made me realize how lucky I am to be born in a country like France and living in a big urbanized city like Paris with free access to education, a good national health care, public transportation and so much more! It also made me realize to enjoy what I have because I know that my daily life in France may be someone’s else dream and I learned to stop complaining about everything because this is what we always do in France. If you see how happy are Balinese people with nothing that really change your way of viewing things.
Moreover, I learned about a totally different culture and I am very happy about it because this was interesting to see something else and sometimes be part of it (be invited at weddings or funeral). I discovered since México that I loved bargaining everywhere I went and I as good at it. I think this will help me in my professional life and I am happy about it.
Also, it was my first time working with kids. I never pass the BAFA to work in a recreation center or work in a summer camp. I didn’t like kids that much so teaching them English was really a challenge for me and to be honest I didn’t know that I will like it so much. I am very proud of me and glad that I did that.
Finally, I had a lot of time to think of my future and my goals in life. I still don’t know exactly what I will do in my future life but after my semester in México and this experience in Bali I know that I want to work in a company with the best ethic method as possible and open to the world. As I now speak Spanish and English fluently I would like to have a job that allows me to practice these languages.
In this report I tried to do my best to tell you about my time here as a volunteer in Bali even if it’s hard to tell everything because there is so much to talk about.
These months were a life changing experience for me and I will probably never forget it. It was my first time working with kids and I enjoyed it. I think I won’t say that enough times but I learned so much about me and about the others. I saw that this made me grow as a person and even if there were hard times when I wanted to come back to France, I could always step back and think how lucky I was for doing this amazing thing. At the end of this trip I will only take the positive out of everything and remember the good things that Bali brought me.