READ STORIES FROM PAST VOLUNTEERS
Meet our past volunteers and read what they had to say about their experience with School in Paradise
Anna & Ivana
Volunteers from the Czech Republic, November – December 2019
Anna: We were very lucky for the opportunity that School in Paradise gave us because I always wanted to volunteer in less developed countries and work with children. My entire “trip” took over 8 weeks and it was an unforgettable experience and an amazing traveling adventure.
Ivana: I would not make such adventure without Anna’s crazy idea to go teach English to some lonely island in Indonesia, not wanting to go alone. Looking back, I am glad she talked me into it and didn’t leave without me. We experienced rich six weeks of fun with kids and together, the other two on the road while travelling around the beautiful sceneries. So many memories were made just in two months of our lives, it was everything but not routine, which my life sometimes gets into back in Czech. Every time I go back in my memory, it makes me want to visit soon again.
Now some numbers: we took 10 flights, 6 ferries, rode over 1,000 km on a scooter, visited 3 big Indonesian islands – Sumatra, Bali, Lombok; 7 little ones – Gili Trawangan, Air, Meno, Kedis, Sudak, Nanggu, Nusa Penida, hiked Bromo (2,339 m) volcano and Gunung Kondo (3,200 m). I feel like I could write a book about our adventure but we decided to pick only a couple of experiences.
So what it is like teaching children in Lombok? We were a little bit nervous before our first lesson not only because we didn’t know what to expect but also because we had to drive about 30 mins in crazy Lombok traffic (short note: at the end of our stay we’ve become driving masters, we even took roundabouts in the opposite direction like locals). We taught two groups of children; one in Tolot Tolot that was located in a rural community in central Lombok and the other group was in Sengkol village. Both groups were very different and we were never bored with those children! Every lesson was challenging and we definitely have gained much bigger respect for all the teachers :) ( After each lesson, beer was needed for recovery :)
Because we both love sport we planned PE lesson for all of them but boys were the happiest with playing football. Like every boy in the world. We learned a little bit of Indonesian and Sasak from kids and they loved to teach us. Sasak culture and Lombok economics is nothing like the European one and some of the kids have for us unique family situation. It is not rare that their parents are abroad making money for example in UAE, Malaysia or somewhere else. It is not easy on them, moreover, there is not a bunch of after school activities, therefore, we were happy to see them at our lessons every time!
Dominika and Sebastian Kluzovi
Volunteers from the Czech Republic, June – July 2019
Two months have passed by and we are back home with plenty of memories and nostalgia. The stay at Lombok has given us plenty of new experiences, new friends and also offered us to see the world from a different point of view.
Right from the beginning we stayed in village called Pandan Indah where we felt like at home surrounded by friendly people. We were teaching five times a week with the older students coming in the mornings and younger children in the afternoon. Both groups left us with plenty of emotions impressions, and even after our departure we are still in touch with some of them.
The weekends we tend to spend by travelling and so we got to see places such as Gili Islands, Bali and volcanic peak Mt Rinjani.
We also took part in traditional Lombok wedding and the celebrations of Ramadan. But most of the time we spent exploring the island beaches where we learnt how to surf and dive.
We finished off the stay with a good bye party with all our students who all in the end followed us to the airport.
Lombok, village of Pandan Indah and mainly the local people, they all will be missed and we are hoping to return back here one day.
Katka Kvapilova & Lucie Maixnerova
Volunteers from the Czech Republic, September – November 2018
We haven’t even managed to settle down fully and our trip is already over. Understandably, the first days in Lombok were full of unexpected surprises. It is a totally different culture and different surroundings. But the more we started to get to know the locals, the more we were becoming part of this beautiful little island.
We stayed in a little village called Pandan Indah in the middle of rice fields. I lived right with the course headmaster – Mr. Jumirim and therefore we had the chance to get to know the culture from the inside. Unlike the regular tourists we got the chance to become part of the local live.
In the mornings we were teaching English for travel & tourism to older students and in the afternoon we had an English class with little children. We were preparing the older students for working at hotels and restaurants. Theory was mixed with practical tasks such as preparing various Indonesian dishes as well as us showing them how to cook Czech food.
During our stay we got to experience what it is like to build an additional school building. Together with our students we were digging the building foundations having the chance to see the process right from the beginning. We will never forget how they were cementing the foundations using purely buckets and bare hands, all done at night with the help of all their neighbours.
In our spare times we got to learn how to make a pure coconut oil and coffee roasting. On the weekends we usually headed out to explore the island. Our dream was to head to the tallest point of the island – volcano Rinjani. Unfortunately, due to the recent earthquake the road were closed. Regardless not being able to reach the top, we still managed to stay in a tent underneath the peak.
We also got to experience several local weddings where we got dressed into their traditional costumes and wear a very heavy make-up.
After the end of our placement we decided to spend more time in Indonesia and travel around some of the other islands such as Bali and Java. They were all different and fascinating, but Lombok will always stay in our hearts.
Overall the whole traveling will always be and unforgettable experience for us. We learned so much and undoubtably it will shape our ways in the future. Their humbleness, gratitude, willingness and warmth should inspire us all. Even in this poor country and shaking land underneath their feet you can experience more smiles than anywhere in the world.
We are so happy, that thanks to School in paradise we were able to experience all this.
Volunteer from the Czech Republic, July – September 2018
It will be almost two weeks back in Czech Republic. Life can be hardly more different from what I experienced on Lombok. Even I like lot of things here I am going to miss a lot of stuff from Indonesia as well.
For example teaching English there, sometimes it was difficult and exhausting but also rewarding. It was awesome to see students make a progress and learn English. I also loved discovering island and its possibilities, beauties and hidden places. Learning about local culture and different way of life was one of the life lessons I will cherish forever. Having some free time was one of the benefits and thanks to it discovering local beaches. I don’t think I spent so much time on the beach ever, plus if you are willing to try surfing, it is the best. It was also great to see different kind of life that we no longer know here in Europe, such a simple life.
I was amazed how much they can life alongside nature without altering it as much as we do. Being able to life not only alongside nature but other religions without opinion, disgust or any other negative feeling was great message I got there, I love how they can respect other religions beside Islam.
I would recommend to everybody who thinks about volunteering to go there, which I intent to do again, this has became one of the experience which alter your life, your view on things and way you want to live.
Volunteer from the Czech Republic, July – September 2018
Three months in Lombok have literally flown by. What I am taking away with me is plenty of memories and valuable experiences. Teaching English was a really good fun for me. The students were hardworking and determined to learn something new. Also for me was the teaching beneficial as I could use all my knowledge in practise.
Volunteer from the Czech Republic, May – July 2018
Considering the whole stay in Lombok hadn’t necessarily flown by, the last few weeks went extremely quickly. Even though I couldn’t wait to go home, the last two weeks I actually thought it would be nice to have a few extra day. It was difficult to say goodbyes after two months with our local ‘family’, students and friends.
The first farewell took place at school with Mrs. Intan, we met her two month old son and students prepared for us traditional lunch. I would hardly recommend to other volunteers to visit her school as soon as possible. Mrs Intan is a wonderful and strong woman, who leads her students towards improving their English. Already this experience was very emotional, and that wasn’t even the hardest goodbye which was still ahead of us. In the end we spent our last weekend in the our village and tried to cherish every last minute with our students.
In the last few days we cooked some traditional Czech food such as friend cauliflower, we played Czech music, danced, took loads of pictures and just enjoyed every last moment. Our host Mr Jumirim also taught us how to make coconut oil which we were able to take home with us.
We had a a long and tiring journey ahead of us so we mainly spent our time by relaxing, packing and saying goodbyes to everyone. The last two days we spent with our students and these times were probably the nicest times we had here in Lombok. On our last day of departure we got picked up by our students, we welcome new volunteers, and then we headed to the airport in procession of doyens of motorbikes with students and our host family. Everyone came to the airport, just stood there and waved at us as we were leaving our two month home making this the most wonderful good bye we could have ever imagined.
Loads of times I wanted to give up, buy a flight ticket and go home, but when I saw all of our students just standing there waving and some of them even crying because of our departure, then I knew, that this was the biggest and best experiences in my life so far. I genuinely believe that everyone should experience this. People get a different view on life and see things that flew by them unnoticed. The entire view on life changes.
Volunteer from the Czech Republic, May – July 2018
Four months ago I randomly decided to become a volunteer. I will go to Indonesia to teach local children English. I will help them towards a better life where instead of just messing around they will learn a foreign language which will help them to get a job. Back then I was telling myself that this doesn’t really mean much for me, to dedicate a bit of my time and help children to learn foreign language.
However, I didn’t anticipate that instead of me teaching them, it was mainly the local people and children teaching me. Every day of my stay I got to learn how to live and enjoy life again. I realised what is truly important in life (and no, it is not the colour we will paint our room or the brand of the clothes we are wearing). What is important is the way we manage to live with ourselves, how we can cherish every moment and be grateful for everything we have.
One can travel through countless countries, visit various beautiful touristic and non-touristic destinations, but whether they travel by themselves or through a travel agent, they will never truly understand the beauty of a country, where they are currently in. Only until one gets accepted and taken under the wind by a local, only then one can see the genuine treasures as well as the negatives of the place.
I was lucky enough to experience just that. I left home to spend 2 months at the island of Lombok, where I could (thanks to my family and the university department Education & Counselling Institute at ČZU) discover the beauty of this island every day.
So, if any of you are still hesitant and not sure, what to do and what you are expecting from life I recommend taking some time off and going away for a while. To switch off. To learn, what life is like in different corners of the world. To see and experience something completely different from ‘our world’. Only then you can truly appreciate important life values.
Thank you School in Paradise for this life experience.
Volunteer from the Czech Republic, February – April 2018
Being a volunteer has given me so much. I got to visit some breathtaking places, met some wonderful people and got so many fantastic experiences which I will remember for the rest of my life.
I went to Lombok to teach children English, however what happened was that it was mainly myself who learnt from local people. I realised what we have back at home. How lucky we are to live in a country where there is always help where needed, where there is a good education and where we have the option of travelling the world if we want and if we work hard. What I also realised was that we are always chasing after something without appreciating what we already have. The time spent here taught me to be happy in the present moment even with very little. It was a school of life moment which left my eyes opened.
Local children have given me the strength to continue with my university studies even though I was at times undecided whether to continue or not. Mainly they have filled me with feeling of wanting to carry on with teaching in the future. In Lombok I got to experience various types of English courses from the poorest schools, through language after-school programs to elite boarding schools which has given the possibility of seeing Indonesia educational system from various angles. Each experience has moved me that little bit forward and I am thankful to School in Paradise to making this possible with open arms. One day I would like to come back and work again with local children who are full of life and who are so keen to take on anything you give to them.
In the end I would like to say, that if anyone is deciding whether to give it a go or not, then go for it! Because it is so worth it!
Volunteer from Slovakia 2017
Katka spent time in Petiwung as a P.E. teacher, swimming instructor as well as a joga teacher. She also helped with construction of the school in Petiwung.
Volunteer from the Czech Republic 2017
Thanks to Sekolah Pogem and mainly Andrea I was able to spend several wonderful months in Lombok and focus my attention at children from local school as well as educating myself. I was teaching English and on the other hand the children were teaching me how to enjoy the tiniest little things in life, and not to worry about the things which in our world might seem as a big deal. I learn how not to stress over things and learnt how people even with so little can at easy and happy.
This opportunity has given me new friends with whom I was able to share new experiences, joyful moments and mainly daily smiles. Life experiences like these is something one will always remember and I believe I will be able to be helpful to this organisation yet again in the future.