Yu Xiang - 2015 Program Participant

Hiking through a rice field in Bali

Rice Fields

What inspired you to travel abroad and join an international program?

I completed my primary and secondary education in China and I am going to pursue my further education in Canada, so I would like to meet new cultures and learn how to cooperate with international friends as early as possible. I feel that participating in an international program is a great way to improve my English and become more culturally tolerant. Besides, I simply enjoy being surrounded by another culture.

What did you enjoy most about traveling in Indonesia?

An adventure in a new country can be full of surprises, like my trip in Bali. I used to get lost on the way back to the volunteer house, but this just gave me an opportunity to witness another picture of Bali, delicate villas and houses are surrounded by those tropical plants and rice fields, which is fantastic. For me, being lost in a completely new environment can be a kind of enjoyment as well!

Why did you choose IVHQ?

I chose IVHQ for multiple reasons. Most importantly, the programs are affordable compared to those of other organizations and have a great reputation at the same time. Also, I realized that I would benefit a lot from its programs. Not only can we meet new friends from various countries and create our values through volunteering, but have enough time to explore the new place. What’s more, the orientation week is extraordinary; during the orientation, we gain a better understanding of local people’s daily life and their unique culture. Everything is so well organized, while quite flexible, which is exactly what I was looking for.

What was your favorite part about Bali?

When it comes to my favorite part of Bali, the answer would be the great contrast between the traditional Bali and the Bali affected by the tourist industry. We can easily visit a traditional Balinese compound when roaming about Ubud. But if we go to Kuta, for example, we can enjoy having a dinner in a pretty well-designed bar or being part of a crazy party on the beach. Therefore, Bali offers us so many choices to explore so that we will hardly get bored on this island. The contrast is so big, which means we will always get surprised there!

What makes IVHQ’s volunteer program in Bali stand out from other programs?

I have never tried other programs so it is hard to say. But still, I would say the orientation week was really impressive. It was really well-organized and gave me an opportunity of “being a Balinese”. In that week, I learned Balinese flower offerings, basic local language, making Balinese spring roll, Balinese painting, and so many other things about their unique and amazing culture. I guess that is what makes this program so special!

What was the local staff like? How supportive were they?

I must say that the staff was so nice! They helped me throughout the whole program. They provided me with whatever I needed for class and gave me a hand when I had difficulty in communicating with the students. What’s more, I once got sick and felt that I could not keep working. The staff was so caring that he just drove me back to where I lived immediately. They are all great people to work with!

If you could go back, what would you do differently during your time in Bali?

Since this was my first trip alone. I wanted to do so many things, like volunteering at school, exploring the new place alone, and traveling with new international friends. However, it is actually quite hard to achieve all of them well within just two weeks. Therefore, I wish I would have better managed my time.

Describe a day in the life of your program.

I love this question! I will try to make it detailed. I got up at 6:45 a.m. and met my colleague at 7:30 a.m. Then we took a free taxi to our school, which took us about 10 minutes. The school began at 8:00 a.m., the children would pray before class. Although they are only four years old, they are all very pious. I could feel the purity and beauty from their inner world, which moved me so much!

Then we would share some basic stuff in English like greetings and weathers. To make the class effective and fun, we usually danced and did some painting with the children. We would not speak too much English because they were just so young. We finished school at 10:00 a.m. and then prepared for tomorrow’s class.

As you can see, I had my whole afternoon and evening free. Other volunteers might go to the pool or spend the rest of the day in a café; I rented a scooter and explored every corner of the town during the day and hung out with friends at nighttime. You can just do whatever you want to! As for the orientation week, each day of which was different and enjoyable. Just join IVHQ and you will know!

What activity did you enjoy most outside of your volunteer work?

I guess that would be watching Kecak, which is a form of Balinese dance. We watched it on the second day of orientation week. Basically, there are lots of performers sitting around a torch, percussively chanting "cak," and moving their hands and arms, and the dancers were in really delicate costumes. The performance depicted a story that the monkey-like Vanara helped Prince Rama fight the evil King Ravana. The live vibe was incredible and the vocal part was culturally unique in terms of rhythm and melody. It was amazing and I will definitely watch it again!

What type of accommodation did you have? What did you like best about it?

I lived in a house of traditional Balinese style. There were two floors and six rooms. Each room could hold six people. Everything was so easy for us. We could keep food in fridges, cook by ourselves, park our scooters, and shower every day. I think the best part of it was that we had enough space to interact with other volunteers. Outside the rooms, there was a big common area for us to have meals, chat, watch TV series, play cards, and even sleep. It was beautiful as well for the tropical plants. We had a great time there!

How has volunteering in Bali impacted your life?

I learned so many things in this volunteer trip. I met people from different countries with all kinds of life experiences, which did inspire me to travel to more places and to explore this amazing world. Besides, through the process of cooperating with international friends, I feel that I am much more open-minded now and able to think in both western and eastern ways.

This program also makes me believe that we can gain happiness through helping others and sharing your thoughts with others. Keep exploring, stay open-minded, be willing to help others and life is beautiful.