Volunteering Experiences in Bali
“My stay at Program by the Sea was just amazing. I learned a lot with these kids and they are just beautiful with true values. I can only see positive from this experience and I feel like a better person for having done it. I fell in love with the culture and the way of living. I recommend this experience to anybody who wants to emerge themselves into an unforgettable experience with amazing people.”
-Elisabeth Page – Canada
Logan, USA, March 2016, 8 weeks
I hardly know where to start to tell about my volunteer trip in Bali. It would be impossible to summarize all the incredible moments and one of a kind experience. As soon as I landed in Bali the fun began. The organization representative who picked me up from the airport spoke basic English, but tried so hard to communicate with me to make sure that everything went well and that I was comfortable.
On our way to Ubud, he stopped to show me one of his favorite temples and let me time to wander around for awhile to take in the breathtaking sights and get my first glimpse of the Balinese culture. I stayed in a hostel for a few days in the heart of Ubud waiting for the other volunteers to arrive before we went to our volunteer compound for the remainder of our stay. On our way to the compound, we stopped to explore Tirta Gangga, a beautiful water palace decorated by pools and fountains surrounded by a lush garden with stone carvings and statues. After a three-hour drive, we finally arrived at the compound on the North Eastern coast of Bali in Tianyar and that’s when all the magic began.
I spent two months volunteering with Yayasan Widya Sari, a non-profit foundation, teaching English to the 7-9 year olds and 11-13 year old group. The organization founder, Ketut, made the entire program a life-changing experience. The other volunteers I worked with felt like family to me. We ate together, taught together and played together. Out of all the countries I have volunteered in, I have never felt so at home and appreciated. The people of Bali are the most kind-hearted, friendliest people I have ever met. I had so many memorable experiences and developed so many friendships with the locals and other volunteers. If it weren’t for the Visa restrictions, I would have stayed in Bali even longer.
The community involvement and sense of camaraderie in Tianyar is overwhelming. When you are a visitor, the locals take you in as one of their own. Bringing you home to meet and talk with the family, enjoy a meal with friends, and what turned out to be my favorite activity was being invited to go fishing with the locals. The Balinese people are always smiling and waving to others; and they are always willing to help their neighbors in any way they can. There was never a moment on my trip that I didn’t feel the love, friendship and hospitality of the local people.
I cannot emphasize enough how much I recommend people visiting this beautiful place. If you want to have a truly life changing experience that will challenge you to broaden your horizons and learn more about yourself and other people in the world, this is the ideal program.
I have volunteered with a variety of programs across the world and I can honestly say that my experience with Ketut’s program in Bali was one of the best times in my life.
Jessica, Australian, September 2015, 20 weeks
“The Perfect Experience”
Volunteering at Yayasan Widya Sari has to be the most beautiful, eye opening life changing experience for me. I don’t feel like my review should be about the every day schedule but more about what you get out of the program as a whole and as an individual. I’m sure every volunteer who has come through has felt the same about this beautiful place.
There was not one moment here where I longed for home because being surrounded by the happy, smiling students, Ketut and his welcoming family and all the super cool volunteers I felt like I was already there.
I volunteered at Yayasan Widya Sari, Tianyar for a total of 5 months (20weeks), that was after I decided to extend my stay for an extra month, and if I could have I would have stayed forever. I wish I could find the words to describe how this place made me feel, because then this would probably be one of the most positive reviews out.
The way classes are done here is a very good system, easily allowing for new volunteers to get into the flow of things which is good because I was very nervous and shy at the beginning as I had never had any teaching experience but I soon got right into it teaching the b2 boys and c girls (13-15) I couldn’t have asked for 2 more perfect classes for myself, the system is very straight forward, lots of fun and very comfortable. The children are so eager to learn and so so loving and happy, so many hugs and new drawings to add to the collection on my wall every day. it’s impossible not to get attached to each and every one especially living there for 5 months, I got to live and breath this experience and honestly felt like a proud mother watching the children grow and succeed.
Living right next to your classrooms and in the area of Ketuts family home you get fully involved in everything happening around you, including things like eating dinner all as a group around the table, going out on a Wednesday night for a beer and to watch the live music and attending ceremonies which i think is really special. I enjoyed every moment spent here, even just sitting in the afternoons watching the children play brought so much joy, and meeting so many volunteers and also locals who have become forever friends. Ketut, Leony, Nyoman and Made really go the extra mile to make this an amazing experience for everyone and support you along the way with anything you need.
I couldn’t think of a more perfect place to have spent my time helping to give back to the Tianyar community, it ticked all the boxes plus 100 more. Volunteers are just ordinary people with extraordinary hearts, they offer the gift of their time to teach, to listen, to help, to inspire, to build, grow and to learn.
They expect no pay but the value of their work has no limit, rewarded with a simple hug, they plant tiny seeds of love in countless lives. Volunteers are just ordinary people who reach out, take a hand and together make a difference that lasts a lifetime, thank you volunteer in Bali, forever grateful for this perfect experience x.
Bianca, Australian, Sept 2015, 4 wks Program Ubud Village
“I volunteered at a piece of true Bali”
Over the years I have volunteered at various foundations in Bali, Indonesia, feeling the need to give back to a place that has impacted my life on so many levels. Spending time at Novia’s traditional village at ‘Program Ubud Village’ brought me a greater understanding and respect for the Balinese culture and how their belief weaves its way through every aspect of their lives with such purity and honesty.
I was asked to attend ceremonies that before I only experienced as a tourist and was moved how I was immediately accepted by the family into such an intimate event. I was overwhelmed by the amount of children who turn up everyday in this remote lush location to learn english, their dedication to attend the free classes and their commitment to learning was unexpected. Teaching all age groups was challenging but hugely rewarding as I began to understand that it was up to me to provide these young people with a learning experience that will keep their inspiration alive. My tip in teaching………keep it fun!!! It was great to know that I always had both Novia and Mega (Teachers Aid) at hand to support me in my teaching and conversations with the children, they ensured both the children and the volunteer felt comfortable and confident at all times. Mega had worked previously in the tourist town of Seminyak in Bali, and speaks beautiful english, we could hold conversations on any topic and she helped me to better understand the culture and the challenges she and her community face. I highly recommend this program to anyone who wants a true experience with the people of Bali in which you in turn will challenge and learn more about yourself then you could have imagined. I also felt confident to volunteer my time with this organization as I was happy to know that my contribution went 100% back into the local community and supported the growth of the program and the continuation of the free English class for the children of the region. This program was created for all the right reasons!!!!!
Hendra, Indonesian/Singaporean, Aug 2015, 2 weeks
“Volunteers are paid in six figures… S-M-I-L-E-S”
Have you ever wondered why volunteers don’t get paid? If you want to know why, carry on reading 😛 I have been doing regular volunteering work in Singapore and have done several overseas volunteering trip before – Jakarta, Batam, China. And this year i decided to volunteer overseas once again. So, on one fine day when i was revising, there was a case study on Bali in my lecture notes.
What came into my thought was: ‘Hey! Bali! i have not visited that place since last year. So i decided to look up for accommodation and flights to Bali. Suddenly i was thinking, can i do something more while traveling? Why not volunteering in that place itself? So i changed my search from ‘Cheap flight(hotel) in Bali’ to ‘Volunteer in Bali.’ Unexpectedly, Bali by The Sea was churned out as top in the list by Goggle Search. ‘By the sea’ certainly caught my eyes and led me to click on the web site to find out more. After checking on the programs offered, beneficiaries served, price lists and all the necessary information. I was deeply intrigued by the activities. Without much hesitation, i emailed the founder, Mr Ketut for the necessary information. Not long after, i was confirmed a slot to volunteer in the organization.
I did not worry much about volunteering alone in a foreign place instead i was more afraid of having difficulties in adapting to the local environment. Naturally, i chose 2 weeks of volunteering which is the minimum required duration (but i regretted, will tell you why later). I arrived at Denpasar on 29th August (Friday), a week after my exams. I was greeted by a friendly driver who drove me to Ubud where i was placed in a local home stay and allowed to explore Ubud for two days. I was lucky enough to have two fellow volunteers who arrived the same day as me. So the three of us explored Ubud and was brought to Tianyar (exact location of volunteering. Accommodation and teaching venue is located in the same place) on Monday morning. When i arrived, i was greeted by a bunch of kids who said ‘hello, how are you’ and ‘hi what’s your name and where are you from’ eagerly. One word -> Adorable. Then we were invited to the dining table where we had lunch with fellow existing volunteers. Frankly speaking, it was kind of socially awkward for the first time. But i guessed it was normal considering this was the first time i met them. Next, the three of us was directed into our rooms (of course the rooms for guys and girls are separated. Sorry to disappoint you guys :P). First impression of the room: neat but a little bit dusty and well equipped with private cabinet and mosquito net. In my opinion the accommodation was decent enough bearing in mind that this was a charity organization, not a hotel. There is no electric fan so during the day it can get quite warm but oh well the beach is just 3 mins walk away from the school and trust me, it gets chilly at night so there is no need for fan. Toilet was well maintained but there was no hot water! Haha just to mentally prepare you it can really get quite cold in the early morning so i would suggest you to take a shower in the late morning but trust me you will get used to it. And remember to keep yourself hydrated IMPORTANT. After lunch, I was allocated to teach B1 class (afternoon class) and B3 class (morning class). At 2 o clock that day, i joined my class. Teaching kids was not new to me and i had a very wonderful volunteer co-teaching with me (Zurine, Spain). The class was lively and active.
It was a fantastic start for my first day of volunteering. Afternoon class usually ends at 3.30 except for Wed and Thurs where the class ends at 3.00 and they will have bonding activities together with the volunteers. Personally i like this arrangement because it fosters the relationship between kids and volunteers, as well as among volunteers themselves. Then i went to the beach to chill and had small talks with other fellow volunteers. Dinner is usually served at 6 and make sure you are back by that time to ensure that you don’t miss any good food 😛 I am a picky eater but the food served there have definitely satisfied my palate. Note that you will need to plan for the topics which you want to cover with the class and prepare other necessary materials, alone or with another volunteer co-teaching the same class if you happen to have one. Planning teaching material is never easy but after seeing the students able to apply it correctly was so rewarding. Teaching days last only from Mon-Thurs and after that you are free to roam around Bali. YAY! I am glad that i have a bunch of funny people whom i traveled with during the free days. We visited a lot of places of attractions and did may crazy things together. From watching sunrise, dolphin sightseeing, hiking the mountain (which i chickened out in the end sorry guys :P) , four hours of rice field trekking, water palace, magnificent waterfall and many more. Indeed weekends well spent with you guys! Good times always pass by so fast, not knowingly it was my last day teaching my B1 and B3 class. After the class, we had our weekly sports lesson where it involved all staffs, volunteers and students. a great way to bond and sweat!
Then, there was a farewell ceremony for me and another girl (Carmela, Spain) who was also leaving on that week. I was made teary when one of my student gave a thank you speech in front of everybody. Each and everyone of them presented me with a thank you letter too before each class ended. How thoughtful of them! I only read them few days ago when i was back in Singapore because if i read it there, i will cry more for sure hahahaha. The local staff Leony presented me with a traditional Balinese hat and it suit me really well. Thank you! I couldn’t hold my tears during the farewell ceremony because i know i won’t have classes with them anymore 🙁 I can’t bear to leave them and so you should NEVER choose two weeks of volunteering. Go for more if you can 🙂 Finally, I would like to thank Ketut (Founder), Leony (Staff), Nyoman (Staff) & Nyoman (Chef) for the support during my stay in Bali. As well as Melodie, Kaitlyn, Vicky, Caroline, Dan, Tristan, Zurine, Carmela, Lucie and Lisa. Without you guys i will be bored to death and i love you guys from the bottomless bottom of my heart 😛 if u get my pun! My stay was surely a memorable one and it was an amazing experience for me. I will be back again 😀 Oh and the answer: why volunteers don’t get paid? Not because they are worthless, simple because they are priceless. A quote from Mother Teresa to end my lengthy review: ‘Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.
Joel, Singaporen, August 2015, 3 weeks
“A brilliantly insightful experience”
I was a little apprehensive about this programme because I’d never really volunteer through a non-profit organization before, but it was easily the most meaningful experience of my life. The staff were incredibly welcoming and helpful. Ketut, the founder of the program will always be there to help answer your questions and queries. He and his team are more than capable of taking care of all the volunteers
When you’re there teaching the kids, you’re there not only as a teacher but also as a friend. Because I was there for just 3 weeks, i really treasured every single day. There were days where I fell a little ill, but that did not stop me from giving my best to make my lessons easy and entertaining. Its the community within class which I fell in love with. When you’re there, you’re not just there with the locals, you’re living like a local: eating and engaging with them, adapting to their lifestyles. I will never forget the moment when a student of mine invited me to her house for a meal. She stayed in a really small house, perhaps only slightly larger than the size of a typical household toilet in Singapore. Upon walking in, all I saw was a mattress; it was where her parents slept and right beside it lay a cloth; it was where she would sleep. We chatted awhile before their dinner arrived. Their dinner was delivered to them by a motorbike and it was only later when I realized that they received it via donation. I had the most memorable meal that day. The fact that they were willing to share their meal with me, despite the fact that they already had so little to begin with touched my heart. It was the most perfect moment, I revisit it all the time.
Philip, USA/South Korea, June 2015, 12 weeks
“A brilliantly insightful experience”
I arrived in Bali, Indonesia on 27th of March, 2015 and stayed there until 20th of June, 2015, exactly for 12 weeks in total. The three-months long journey turned out to be a surprise gift, like the one my students lovingly gave me on my last day. I expected A but instead was given A, B, and C. The original purpose of the trip was to learn how the people in the “third world country” lived differently from the people in the “first world.”
Not only have I learned the Balinese lifestyle but I also experienced something new, something of which I had been wholly ignorant before: that a human community can be a rich blessing to an individual and that kids are indeed the manifestation of human goodness. In short, my stay at a small Tianyar village turned out to be a rare opportunity that actually made a lasting impact on my perspective and my future course of life. Growing up in the developed countries like South Korea and the United States, my perspective of life and the world naturally had been limited to that of people with similar background. Life, for me and for others, consisted of constant competitions one after another, and the “winner” was whoever could stay longest on the treadmill of the 21st century version of Hunger Game. Like many of my generation I felt disgust on this notion of life and felt strongly for doing something against this momentum of the first world life. I’d been thirsty for a chance to explore the other world, different than my own.
An occasion turned my vague feeling into a specific idea. Five years ago I heard in one of the sermons that the lives of great people, like Tolstoy or Gandhi, were transformed when they encountered the reality of the people in drastically different living-condition and lifestyle. “Go!” the pastor said, “meet these people yourself. See their reality with your own eyes. You’ll never be the same.” Since then I had felt a strong need to go to countries like India, or just any countries generally considered “third world”, and meet the harsh reality of the people there. With such aspirations I came to Indonesia. But I encountered something I did not anticipate. I expected the shocking poverty or the abysmal misery of the people. Instead I saw people living more or less contently with the small possession they had. Hardly anyone was miserable. I could easily think of more miserable people back home. Don’t get me wrong; people in Indonesia are poor, at least money-wise. Many live in hut-looking houses; hardly any families own cars; students cannot afford college education; many have to buy water for everyday use; for most, traveling other countries sounds like an impossible dream. However, they were hardly in abject condition by any standards. What I saw in general in the poor fisherman village and elsewhere in Bali and Indonesia was the cheerful people who seemed to be way happier than their counterparts with hundredfold income on the other side of the globe.
“It is not the man who has too little who is poor,” said Seneca, “but the one who hankers after more.” The poor was not they as much as we. I went to Indonesia ready to feel pity on the local people, but ironically I couldn’t help feel pity on the people in South Korea and America for their comparatively too competitive and stressful lifestyle. Sure, Balinese people have very few by our standard – no fancy vacations or new iPhones – but they still retain what we also had had long time ago: the spirit of community. Even more, they are blessed with the privilege of truly enjoying every moment, with friends and families (the distinction is blurred in Bali), not having to incessantly worry about their tomorrows or some distant future – the fundamental ingredient of everyday happiness. Unfortunately, we in the first world countries have lost the ability of enjoying the moment for its own sake and of truly appreciating and be satisfied with the few most important things in life, like family, fresh air, and exchange of innocent smiles.
We somehow transformed our society into Hobbes’ “war of all against all.” I’m in awe of this village that still retains the spirit of community, which unites everyone and builds a strong trust and bondage between each other. In this peaceful village, time seems to matter less. People are not caught up with set schedules or personal pursuits. The kids seem to really enjoy their childhood, following their innate desires to be with friends, run barefoot, swim in the beach, play soccer and games, etc., without any constraints on their natural passion from either their parents or society. There is no doubt that they were much happier than their counterparts in South Korea and other developed countries. Of course, the kids I am talking about are from seven to fifteen years old, and they may get stuck in reality of life as they get older. Still, I feel happy as I see them so happy. I only wish Korean kids could enjoy their right of childhood as well. During the three months of stay, I’ve grown so much as a person and extended my personal horizon, mainly thanks to the unique circumstance I was in where I was forced to socialize with other people, whether co-volunteers or students. As a natural introvert, who finds comfort and energy when being alone in a quiet place, it was initially a serious challenge, both mentally and physically. But I took this time as an opportunity to outgrow my former self and get out of my comfort-zone. After some initial struggle I think I achieved some success in this endeavor, or so people have told me. Teaching is an art, a craft in it self that requires a series of failures and endless endeavor to master. I was a novice in this art and had to go through strings of failures in the beginning. As I had never taught kids so young as these before, the job was as daunting as it could get. When doing worksheets, ten students call my name for help all at the same time every two seconds.
When I am helping one, another keeps insisting I should come to her now, and I tell her to wait just to be called by another. Some students can be rowdy talking to friends while I teach. Imagine a novice introvert teacher struggling to keep the class organized and under control. Yes, it was demanding job, at least initially. To my great relief, teaching gradually became manageable and I grew more confident everyday. After a while, I began to enjoy teaching, not only because it could be fun and meaningful but also the kids were so responsive and adorable to interact with. Once the kids open their minds and trust their teachers, they are the most respectful and enthusiastic students you can imagine. I’d even say It’s a privilege to teach such bright and good-natured kids. I still vividly remember my first day at Yayasan Widya Sari. Everything was so exotic. Three hut-looking classrooms among the tall palm trees and tiny kids with big eyes crowding around a whiteboard eagerly listening to their foreign teachers. I was so excited that I was here so different from everything I had experienced all my life but at the same time so nervous not knowing what to do other than just looking at their innocent faces. At that time, several kids came to me, no, ran towards me, with biggest smiles you’ve seen, asking my name and where I came from. In turn, I asked their names and they were some of the cutest names I know: Tri, Puspita, Ayu, etc. They instantly suggested me to play games together and taught me some of the games they know right then. Then I taught them the games I know and they were so happy to learn and play new games. In the very first encounter, I was accepted into their group and we were friends by the end. How can I forget such a moment? I’ve had numerous such moments in the last three months. They are the greatest gifts the kids at Yayasan gave me, which I will be remembering even in my grave.
Montserrat, German, May 2015, 16 weeks
“An unforgettable experience”
If I start telling you about my volunteering at the non-profit foundation (Yayasan Widya Sari) in Tianyar, I really wouldn’t know where and how to start. I experienced so many beautiful moments, met wonderful people, collected one of a kind experiences, which changed me in such a positive way. In Tianyar I actually spent one of the best times in my life.
I am overjoyed to have made this decision to spend 4 months there. I even extended my stay for one month because I just didn’t want to leave this beautiful place. There is so much to be found in this place, so much happiness, so much joy, so much harmony and love… During my 4 months I taught the preschool class, the A classes and all computer classes. All the children that I taught were 8 – 15 years old. At first I was incredibly nervous, no wonder, since I had never taught English before. But all my worries quickly vanished when I finally met the children. These children are so warm-hearted, happy and so affectionate. Their beautiful smiles were contagious.
Teaching the classes was great fun. Every class has its own curriculum so that you know what the other volunteers previously taught and how you can continue. However, you have the freedom to create the lessons any way you like. Should you need help though, you can always ask anyone. What fascinated me was that these students really want to learn. They are open to anything and they are really ambitious and excited. Be it a new grammatical topic, a new project or a new song…these kids were happy about everything, they even cheered about every new worksheet they got.:) That really sticks in my mind. It showed me that the school’s goal, the improvement of these kids future, was being fulfilled Before and after classes you have time to play with the kids, go to the beach or simply enjoy the Balinese life. Since Tianyar is a very small and traditional village, you get to experience their incredibly, fascinating culture and religious life, be it the countless, colorful ceremonies, the Balinese dance lessons, the traditional market or the incredibly delicious Balinese food surrounded by the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
Since my great passion is dancing, I really wanted to share that with the kids. So I decided to teach them Hip Hop after class. That was really a dream! :)) I’ve never had so much fun in my life before. The kids were thrilled with the Hip-Hop classes, which they deeply appreciated and they always made me laugh. In the beginning everyone was really shy to dance in front of the others but that was exactly the point. My goal was to reinforce their self-confidence in doing something they had never done before and to show them to believe in themselves and never give up. During my 4 months we studied different choreographies and in the end gave a stunning performance in front of the whole school. I can’t describe the amazing feeling to see these children so happy and proud. One of the most impressive moments in my life… I owe all this to Ketut, the founder of this school. He does a really great job and it was wonderful for me to meet someone, who so lovingly invests all his time in these great children and put his whole heart into the school and the kids. Whenever someone has problems, they can always count on him. But the whole staff/family that you live with is unique. They do a great job and really made me part of their family. I am very grateful that I can call this family my friends. My heartfelt thanks goes to Nyoman, the cook, who served amazing and delicious meals every day. I totally fell in love with her food and I am already missing her and the food.
Friday through Sunday you have the possibility to travel and get to know the beautiful island of Bali. Bali is really dreamlike with lots of things to do like sightseeing, partying or diving… My weekends in Tianyar as well as traveling across the island were never boring but memorable. All in all my overall impression is, that everyone benefits from this amazing project, the children as well as the volunteers and I greatly recommend this experience to anyone. l have all these amazing memories and friendships because of this program. A program, which fights for a better future for many talented kids and needs all the support they can get from us to carry on with their wonderful work. I also decided to sponsor a child of this school because I know that my money really will be supporting this child’s education. I wish everybody at the Yayasan Widya Sari all the best! Thank you Ketut, Leony and Nyoman for everything! I miss you already! But it’s not a goodbye, just see you later! 🙂
Rhiannon, UK, May 2015, 4 weeks
I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of my stay in Tianyar teaching these beautifully talented and intelligent children, along side amazing volunteers and surrounded by the most caring, welcoming and hilarious staff. Bali as a whole feels this way, inviting and excited for people to immerse themselves in their culture. In my time we went to many local ceremonies
Often watching our students perform, which makes you overwhelmingly proud, we also went to a student’s younger sisters 6 month ceremony which was a fantastic thing to be involved in, things like this give you the feeling you are a part of the Yayasan family. Living only feet away from the family home and all eating meals together makes everything so comfortable and you couldn’t feel safer. Teaching is so enjoyable, the children are beyond hilarious and it is so refreshing to see children of such a young age so excited to learn new things! You are free to do as many fun projects and songs and dances as you like which is an amazing way to teach these lovely, lovely children. It is hard to express my crazy amount of love for this place, but volunteering here will definitely be a very happy time of your life.
Gaby, American, May 2015, 16 weeks
Teaching at first was nerve wracking, especially because I have two classes of teenagers that are 17 and 18, aka MY AGE. I didn’t know how the kids would react to having an inexperienced teacher so close to them in age, but after just one class I was able to breathe a sigh of relief; they made me feel welcomed and respected me. More than that, they come to class with the ambition to learn, and there is nothing more inspiring to a teacher than seeing his or her students eager to participate.
They’ve impressed me time and time again with their wisdom; I’ve thrown philosophical questions at them ranging from ranking money, happiness, love, and freedom in order of importance to describing what makes people unique. We’ve completed projects including research papers comparing and contrasting Balinese Hinduism to Indian Hinduism and analyzing, discussing, and translating the lyrics to the song “Try” by Colbie Caillat, a song that sheds light on inner beauty and the pressures people face from society to maintain a certain standard of outer beauty. We even created a music video with them for it.
One of the most shocking things I’ve experienced while teaching them has occurred while talking about their job ambitions, as the majority of them said a) they would love to go to university but can’t because of financial issues or family dependency and b) because of the former reason, they want to work in the tourism industry, an industry which has manifested itself as “king-servant” like between tourists and balinese people. Because Bali’s economy relies so heavily on tourism, learning proficient English gives these kids an upper hand in the business. The highest goal within the industry is working on a cruise ship because it gives the students the opportunity to travel and to make enough money to provide for their families. A job on a cruise ship for someone from the western world isn’t usually what kids aspire to obtain and that has become a sad realization for me. Even worse? I’ll be attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall, and I calculated that, with the amount of money I’ll be spending on four years there, I’d be able to send almost 40 kids to four years of cheap university here. How’s THAT for a culture shock? My other class, a bunch of rowdy 13-14 year olds, have me ready to pull my hair out on some days, but I love them all.
They’re hilarious and entertaining to interact with and are eager to learn, most of the time. They keep me on my toes, as they’re more challenging to teach because of their different levels of English comprehension, but there’s no better feeling than watching their faces light up with a smile when they’ve gotten something correct or have finally understood the exercises. It’s incredible how all my classes have helped me grow during my time here and I can only hope that I’ve helped them grow as well
Van Noten Indy, Belgium, May 2014, 4 weeks
“The best experience in my life! Even after more than a year”
I still miss it every day! This really, really was the best experience in my life! A friend and I volunteered for 12 weeks as part of our internship for our university studies. We were both studying to be high school teachers and this was an amazing experience whilst counting as part of our internship. I’m really glad we got this opportunity. Bali and the non-profit foundation (Yayasan in Indonesian) both stole my heart. Bali is such a great, beautiful island full of friendly and helpful people. I loved to living there.
The non-profit foundation is located in an nice location in Bali, really local, pretty and close to the sea. Once you are at the foundation for a few days/weeks, everyone in the village knows you as a teacher from the non-profit foundation, so everyone will speak to you, help you. You also get really involved with school itself and the village. As a volunteer you also go with Ketut (the founder) and his family to Balinese ceremonies. He helps you finding fun things to do during your long weekends around Bali.
The kids at the foundation are also truly amazing! Even when you just get there from the first second they are happy and thankful you want to be there. Also in class they are really well behaved and are lots of fun. You live at the foundation, the school itself, together with the other volunteers and Ketut and his family. Personally I think it makes the experience even better. You live with a real local Balinese family and get to know the real Bali. Not the touristic Bali. Even though you live with Ketut and his family, you have all the luxury you need. You sleep with 2 volunteers in one room, you have your own bed and your own bathroom with a western style toilet, a douche and a basin. What do you need more?
Bali is such a great place where you live outside most of the time, so it is really enough! In the weekends the school is close to ‘Ocean View’, an awesome resort where you can lay and chill the whole day if you buy a drink or so. They have the best juices ever! You can also dive at Ocean View, where you can see the local ship wreckage. If you have never taught before and you are scared to stand in front of a whole class, don’t, it is really amazing. You are also never alone for class, you are always co-teaching with another volunteer. The kids are amazing, smart and they will help you. The teaching is also not the same as in the western world, you can sing with the class, dance and any other activity to make the classes fun and enjoyable. After school hours the kids are often at the non-profit foundation, because it is such an awesome place. Even then you can play with them. Ketut’s family also prepares the food for you, also this is wonderful, especially the noodles, I still miss them every day! I can talk for hours about the non-profit foundation/school and this awesome place. I’m so glad I volunteered for 12 weeks, and I will go back for sure! It really stole my heart! At last I want to thank Ketut again for everything he has done for all the volunteers and me. He is truly the best host you can wish for and next to that an amazing person I truly admire.
Lova, Swedish, April 2015, 12 weeks
The thought of me standing in front of a class of teenagers and teaching English had never occurred to me, not even in my wildest fantasies. I have always thought of teaching as one of the most challenging professions there are, yet I find myself standing next to a whiteboard in front of these young adults, with a marker in my hand and, what do you know, actually teaching.
Teaching my B5 morning class is beyond incredible. A group of magnificent 12-15 year old kids thirsting for knowledge. I get surprised by my own excitement every time I see their eyes shine when they get the difference between past simple and continuous, or how I spontaneously burst out into a sort of happy-dance when they make a correct pronunciation, or how I nearly could cry when they remember all of the “words of the day” for the entire week!
My astonishing preschoolers. A big group of energetic kids, who cheer out loud when they hear the game “duck, duck, goose” but then also jump up out of excitement when I am holding worksheet papers in my hands. It does not matter that my energy level is zero, or that my clothes turn into another color after teaching this class, because they are worth all my energy for sure.
I might be an emotional teacher, however teaching at the Yayasan is actually nothing else but pure happiness. And their gratitude towards the center, all the volunteering teachers and the staff is out of this world.
Not only has teaching been a wonderful experience, but mingling with the rich and unique culture of the Balinese has been an extreme pleasure. The ceremonies, the everyday rituals, their blessings, their greetings, simply the remarkable feeling of everyone doing something together, sharing experiences, gods, spirits and beliefs. It is pure and slightly unreal. Cultural experiences are a huge part of what makes traveling enjoyable and to have had the opportunity to actually take part in so many traditional and cultural activities is rather rare, but the Balinese people are well known for their hospitality towards foreigners, and they sure live up to their reputation. Attending Ketut’s nephew’s traditional wedding, participating in the Ogoh-Ogoh parade, going on the yearly boat trip along the coastline on their first day of the new year, dancing to the Tari Pendet with the talented younger girls during their Saturday dancing classes, and fumbling through ceremonies as they guide us through the prayers are just some of the things we’ve been able to experience here. Even though everyone knows that we’re all the volunteers from the Yayasan, they welcome us with bright laughter and eager smiles. Many people have said that Ubud is the cultural hub of Bali, but we beg to differ. The Yayasan has exposed us to so much of what it’s actually like to be Balinese, and we couldn’t be more grateful.
While the Yayasan creates an environment where Balinese people and foreigners can interact and connect, one of the most important things it does along with teaching English is giving people all across the world the chance to sponsor a child. Sponsorships help students go to school, which can be very expensive when considering costs such as textbooks, transportation, uniforms, tuition and more, all things the government does not provide in Indonesia. Because of the sponsorship program, many of the students at the Yayasan are able to pursue not only a middle and high school education, but even attend university.
Rowena, Dutch, March 2015, 4 weeks
Teaching at non-profit organization – Widya Sari was fantastic! As the school is situated right in the heart of the village community, the children are always around you. Regular activities were organized outside of teaching hours with trips to the beach, a basketball match, and we had some mad water fights too.
Most students will also stay after class and the pre-school students like to then be teachers themselves, and teach us how to play one of their many creative Balinese games. Aside all the fun, being a volunteer here also means making an important contribution to the organization, by allowing the continuation of English education to students who will need to be able to speak English in order to gain employment in the limited sectors available on Bali. I wouldn’t for a second want to imagine the worst case scenario whereby the students’ education being discontinued due to a lack of volunteer teachers.
It is truly rewarding to see students being very appreciative of your time and input, showing their bright smiles, especially when a concept previously difficult to them is finally understood. I would highly recommend this volunteer placement to anyone, as based on my own experience, it has been exceptional and not one to ever forget.
Catherine, Australian, March 2015, 4 weeks
This has been the experience of a lifetime… Filled with happiness and laughter. I formed the tightest of bonds with the local team who are there to support us, the other volunteers and all the amazing students. Everyone is super welcoming! The memories formed will never be forgotten. It was fantastic to be tucked away in the small village that was part jungle/part tropical beach paradise and this was a very affordable way to see Bali and the Gili Islands.
I stayed for one month which went in the blink of an eye, I would recommend staying 2 months if you have the time. We are lucky enough to be celebrated by the local community and everyone is always saying hello. It was fabulous to be included in the local ceremonies where many of the students from the program performed traditional Balinese dances in elaborate, colorful costumes. I can not say enough praise about the program volunteer in Bali and highly recommend it. I will definitely be aiming to go back again as soon as I can! A BIG THANK YOU to everyone at Program Volunteer in Bali, love you all! See you again, mwah!”
Debbie, American, September 2014, 2 weeks
I was one of the older volunteers and Bali left a remarkable life-changing impression for me. The island itself is magnificent with it’s friendly people, but the school showed me pure joy and happiness. The simplicity of life brought me back to the core values of living. I have traveled extensively in my life, but never has such an experience changed my destiny as much as my volunteer experience at the yayasan. Life in America is all about money; and in Bali, it’s all about love, happiness and community.
I had never taught before and was honored to teach the D class in English and all classes for computers. I was terrified that I would be a horrible teacher, but the children are so open and friendly. You walk around the facility and almost every child greets you with “Hello, my name is xxx, what’s your name?” “Do you have a boyfriend?”, “How old are you?”. I was shocked how well their English was, especially compared to my absolute lack of Indonesian or Balinese. It wasn’t a problem at all, and there is always someone around to help you translate. You will be amazed how effective body communication is, as is basic English.
The curriculum is organized so you pick up where the last volunteer left. I was impressed with that. Oh my word … the food was incredible! Prepared by Ketut’s family, we eat the way the family does. Fresh veggies, fresh fruit, rice and some protein. I cannot speak more highly of the food and the delicious Bali coffee. On the weekends, I traveled south to meet my friends and the category 7 resort had nothing on the yayasan meals (three times a day except weekends).
The facilities meet western requirements, as in, clean rooms, clean bed, shower and toilet. There is WiFi which we use after class to update your family and friends of your adventure. There is a nearby store to pick up snacks and the like and it will blow your mind how cheap everything is. I can’t adequately express how amazing Ketut is! His genuine love for every single person on his property is awe-inspiring. The whole team just exude complete care as they embrace their guests. I’ve never felt so at home within minutes of arriving. Embrace the culture – it’s absolutely beautiful! The children don’t have much and you should know how much I teared up when on my last day I received gifts from them. I brought a suitcase full of school-appropriate items when I arrived, and left with much, much more. I wish with all my heart I booked a longer stay.
Bianca & Morgan, South African, Jan 2015, 4 weeks
Morgan and I volunteered at the Yayasan for a month in January 2015, and what a wonderful way to start the year it was. When we started our journey, we were two city slickers, but almost as soon as we left the Yayasan, the change within us had become glaringly apparent. Teaching the children was a daunting task for us in the beginning, especially the younger groups, as while we had TEFL qualifications (which is not necessary for eligibility to volunteer) we had no teaching experience.
However, within the first few days we felt as if we were on track and making headway. Of course, the children make it so easy as they are eager to learn and participate. All of the kids are so beautiful and full of personality that it is easy to want to nurture them. Playing basketball with them or going for a splash in the ocean were our favorite after school activities. The fact that the school is a few steps away from the beach makes it easy to have a tranquil yet active lifestyle.
Ketut, Leonie, Made, Nyoman, and family, are a great team and oversee the whole project beautifully. They are truly wonderful to work with. I have never met people with such purity of heart and unconditional kindness. The food is incredible (I still miss it all the time!) and the Wednesday dinner trips for “Chicken Gordon Bleu” and live music make the perfect cherry on top. The Yayasan Widya Sari will always have a special place in our hearts and I feel as though it has changed us on an intrinsic level. We intend to stay in contact and will look forward to helping out again sometime in the future.!
Katja & Miriam, German/Austrian Oct 2013, 8 weeks
l Guess how much fun I had? ALL OF IT! I had all of the fun! The children are just great. They are so vivid and highly motivated to learn English. Also, they are very open-minded. When I arrived, they immediately run to me and said “Hello” with a big smile. In addition… they are all SO cute!! I taught Group A (the youngest group) with an other volunteer. Since we don’t speak fluent Indonesian, there occurred communication problems every now and then, but there were always Ketut or older students around for helping us.
The kids love to play games and sing some cool songs. But be aware of the fact that they already know a lot of them! So it’s always good to be creative and think of nice songs and games. We end up preparing our classes the whole morning. Ketut himself is an awesome host. He helps wherever he can and he really cares about the children and of course about the volunteers, as well. He helped us planning our weekend trips and taught us a lot of the Indonesian culture. I am so grateful for his support and care. For the food; we got typical Indonesian food and it was delicious! We always got rice, soup with vegetables and some (fried) meat. The dessert consisted of local fruits (e.g. papaya), which are much better than our imported ones here in Germany. If you like the food, don’t hesitate to ask for recipes.
For instance, we cooked Perkedel with Indonesian women, because all the volunteers loved it so much. All in all, I highly recommend being volunteer at the Yayasan Widya Sari. I’ve met such inspiring and great people and awesome children. It was my first time volunteering and I am so incredibly glad that I had chosen this Yayasan. Thank you so much for everything, Ketut! It was a pleasure to work with you.