By: Maria V., Costa Rica, Legacy Volunteer Jakarta
When you travel to a different country your senses are triggered.
One day you are in the comfort of your home, sharing with your friends and family, speaking your own language and eating “normal” food; and the next day, you are waking up in a completely unknown place.
You immediately start to notice differences: the sounds, the smells, the people, the food, the environment. Simple things, like the way they greet others, the clothes they wear, what they eat for breakfast, their facial expressions—everything is somehow new.
But I’m not here to talk to you about my first day as a volunteer in Jakarta.
By my introduction, you can see that I was exploding with amazement. For a young girl from Costa Rica, a country with 5 million people, coming to one of the most populated cities in the world seemed a bit overwhelming. So, what’s a day in the life of a volunteer really like once the initial cultural shock is over?
The Truth is, it never ends. Every day in the life of a volunteer is exciting, new and enriching. The sole idea of leaving everything we know behind to help others in one way or another is already adventurous. This decision is the first step in a series of actions that will guide you into becoming the best possible version of yourself while in Jakarta.
And isn’t that what we all want? To be able to look back in ten (10), twenty (20), thirty (30) years from now and be proud of all the things we’ve done, and all the experiences we’ve had. Life itself is a box of memories; and the value of our individual lives is directly related to how many lives we’ve been able to touch.
Waking up is easier here than it is at home. As soon as you open your eyes your brain will go crazy with all the things planned for the day.The heat starts to rise as the morning advances and all you will want to do is take a cold bath and start with your duties.
Mornings are quiet at the center. We have until 1 or 2 pm to prepare for the classes and special activities of the day.
As a Legacy volunteer, I am assigned international tasks, so I normally prepare myself a good plate of fruits for breakfast and sit with my laptop in the living room. This living room becomes the middle point of the house; we spend almost 90% of our time here.
Between sorting out our class activities, working on our online tasks, preparing food and going out to buy materials, it’s already 1 pm and little by little the centre begins to get crowded. The noise level rises, and it becomes increasingly hot... Sometimes you realize that you cannot keep focused after this time because you have 10 kids looking at your screen but it doesn’t really matter because all you want to do is go play something with them. It can be anything from badminton in the street, to cards, UNO, reading a book, playing hide and sick, etc.
Teaching a class is one of the most rewarding feelings ever, especially when you start to see that they are actually learning because just then you realize that you are being part of someone’s education. Indonesia has one of the worst education systems in the world so taking each child separately and trying your best to understand their individual needs is part of the job. I like to include in my classes subjects regarding health and environment because it’s something that really need to be taught over here.
Before you know it, the centre is getting quiet again and it’s dark outside. It’s time to relax for a bit, so we sometimes go for a walk around the neighbourhood, especially because it starts to get cooler and is bearable to be outside. If we need to finish more online tasks we’ll do so, if not, we lie down, make some popcorn, watch a movie and rest for the next day, which will be completely different and filled with new adventures.
Before going to bed I have this habit of thinking about what I accomplish during the day and what I would do better, tomorrow. I’ve never been more conscious about my blessings in my entire life. Every day is a new adventure and a new discovery. Volunteering abroad is something you have to do at least once in your life.