Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Monthly Update 1: Taman Harapan

Each month I write an update to send to AFS. Here's my first one!

Local Volunteering With YES Alumni in Bandung

Before I came to Indonesia knew I wanted to help out with a community service project, but I didn't know If I would find one that I would be able to continuously volunteer with.  After just two weeks in Bandung, I already found the perfect organization, Taman Harapan! Two of the YES alumni who live in Bandung, Lidya and Aya, invited me to come with them one Sunday morning to help teach some kids English. I was really excited with opportunity because in the U.S. I used to volunteer tutor elementary school kids, and they were always so cute and fun to work with. I was surprised when Aya and I hopped off the angkot (public transportation van) and walked across the street to arrive at our destination, a large sidewalk at the corner of the road. I was expecting to go inside a building somewhere, but we just headed over to a group of young kids on the side of the road and sat down right there! The kids were all excited to see me; some ran up to meet me, while others hid behind their friends and smiled shyly from behind.  Before we arrived, most of the kids were selling cobek (a traditional Indonesian mortal and pestle that is made of heavy stone) to the cars that passed at the corner.  The children's families are very poor so they have to help make money by joining the large numbers of street sellers and beggars you see everywhere in Bandung. I think all of the kids go to school, but selling cobek and other items on the street is their part-time job and they are only about 5-10 years old!

Despite the fact that all the kids had just spent the past few hours carrying around  heavy stone in the hot sun, they were some of the happiest kids I have seen when we started to sing songs and practice counting in English. After I introduced myself and met all the kids, we sang "Head, Shoulders, Knees, and, Toes" and "5 Little Indians", and later we painted some recycled bottles and metal pans to make instruments. I was amazed how content they were spending their Sunday learning on the sidewalk, when a lot of kids back home would complain about having to do anything educational on the weekend.  They enjoyed the simplest things and really, truely appreaciated that me and the other volunteers had come to spend time with them.  I went back to Taman Harapan  this past weekend for the second time, and had even more fun.  This week we taught the kids about the Geography of Indonesia and played some Indonesian games. Using the atlas, I had the kids guess where I am from in America. Also, I learned how to play an Indonesian version of rock, paper, scisors, and hand clapping game from South Kalimantan called "Ampar Ampar Pisang" which got pretty competitive! From volunteering at Taman Harapan, I feel like I have seen the true Indonesia.  I have learned a lot of cultural tidbits and more words in Bahasa Indonesia than the kids have learned in English.  I'm looking forward to going back every Sunday so I can get to know each of the kids and share with them some American games and culture in return!

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