Volunteering in Indonesia
Volunteer during traveling is a great thing! I believe there is a word to describe this kind of travelling and that word is voluntravel. Not only it allows you to save money while travelling – you usually can get free accommodation and sometimes also food from host. In my case it was the only free accommodation, but as I was assured prior to arrival, the food here is extremely cheap, and as it turned out, it really was cheap. Moreover when you volunteer you have the opportunity to learn and experience the real live of local people and become a member of their society. You can really see how life looks like over there. But the most important part of volunteering is that you can help other people without expecting anything in return! So when I arrived to Java I became a volunteer – an English teacher at the local school. It was a private school, which prepares students to work on cruise ships and in hotels all around the world, so the students were already adult people.
First experience of English teaching
Due to my lack of experience in teaching English it was quite a challenge to me, but I managed to deal with it. It was not very hard challenge as I was supported by other teachers and they explained everything to me. I was the teacher of conversation so my only goal was to encourage students to talk in English and correct their pronunciation. Of course the first lesson was about Poland. I was surprised that some of them knew that Polish flag looks like reversed Indonesian flag, they knew that the capital city of Poland is Warsaw and they also knew some Polish football players like Lewandowski. Then I told them a little bit about Poland and their task was to memorize and understand as much as possible and repeat what I said. Next, I asked each student to tell me something about Indonesia – it was a great way for me to learn about this country and their culture. At the end of the lesson I randomly selected topics for each one of them, which they had to present on our next lesson, which was supposed to be 90 minutes later. That lesson never happened, because most teachers decided to make an integrated class with all groups together.
The most advanced group had a slightly different lessons, called interview. During every lesson we had, I had individual interviews with each of the students, paying attention to their body language, pronunciation and language they used. After an interview with everyone, everyone gathered together and I was pointing out what elements they need to improve.
Rising of the Star – trip to the other village
As the school where I worked was a private school, I was usually taken as a mascot of the school for presentation to nearby villages. My task over there was to say a few sentences in English, answer some questions from students and sometimes begin and end the presentation in Indonesian – of course that was the hardest part. In every school we visited I was a real sensation. The students usually greeted me with applause, sometimes the girls squealed, and when I was leaving the school I heard girls crying off “I love you Martin”. It was really nice and I felt like some kind of celebrity, but on the other hand I felt uncomfortable, as I prefer to avoid being in the centre of attention.
Once upon a time, when the presentation was over, principal of the school shocked me by saying:
P: There is a music festival in our school today, would you sing something for us?
Me: I’m sorry, but I do not sing.
F(whispers in my ear): Martin, principal did us a favor and allowed us to have presentation in his school. Now we need to pay back for his kindness and unfortunately you cannot refuse.
I was a little stunned, I totally didn’t expect that, but I said that I will sing, if Miss Dwi (one of the teachers) will join me. I know, I’m mean. The band set up equipment, gave me the microphone and pushed on a stage. I looked around and noticed television cameras focused on me and flashes of photographers from every direction. Miss Dwi somehow got away, but I was joined by a singer, who told me we will sing a song of Muse band – as if I knew the words or could sing. The band began to play and I recognized the song. I did not know most of the words, but at least I joined the lead singer in the chorus and during the rest of the song I just moved my lips and muttered to the beat of the music. The funny thing is that the group of teachers who watched my performance thought that I really sang during most of the song. Maybe I could become a signer and during my performances always use playback? After the show a lot of people, including the band, approached and asked me if they could have a photo with me. Some teachers jokingly called me “Superstar”.