Giving Back: Community Outreach in Indonesia

Faizul H. Ibrahim

This photo is of my final class with my primary 5 students. It was also my only opportunity to say goodbye to them at the end the Community Outreach Program. I wanted to make my final class very special. So, I dedicated the final class to singing sessions, English quizzes and Brunei traditional games. For me, it was important for them to get to know my country & where their English speaking teacher came from. This photo is a result of 4 hours of fun memories that I hope they will remember until they grow up. InsyaAllah. I'm not a fan of sad goodbyes. I hope they fondly remember all my lessons, advice and gifts.

I first announced the date for my last class on the 3rd December. I told them to attend the 17th December class. The 17th was actually already a holiday. But they all showed up! I was elated! I didn't even mention giving away gifts. I started with a singing session and taught them a Brunei traditional song. The girls were more excited about singing than the boys. The boys wanted to skip right to the games! But everyone participated which made me quite happy.

And then it was back and forth with the English quizzes and the traditional games. I wanted to see if they remembered what I taught them throughout the last 3 months. I wasn't disappointed. If they did forget a little, the sweets and chocolates I gave away for every questions answered certainly jogged their memory.

As far as the traditional games, we played 'Carah Duduk', 'Carah Kaki' and 'Katam dan Belon'. The only western game I introduced was the 'Musical Chair'. Just to mention this for fun, the song I used was Justin Timberlake's Mirrors. I didn't have a Brunei traditional song on my phone! But it was still a lot of fun and it made me happy seeing the kids getting so excited. The games went on the longest.

In my opinion, giving back to a community is an amazing experience and you grow so much as an individual. One of my best memories in my lifetime will be my students. I've never taught and I never thought I could inspire. My students always listened to me in every class, always disciplined without scolding them and were enthusiastic on learning English. The smiles they left on our final class will always stay as my souvenir.

I also gave as many advices as possible to all my students. I hope they carry on studying because there's nothing they can't achieve if they put their mind to it.

I learned a great deal from the villagers too. Within the rural world, there's a sense of familial & social stability. Doors are seldom locked, a man's word is his bond & a handshake is stronger than any legally binding contract. There's an emphasis on 'old-fashioned' values. It was a cultural experience with the villagers as well.

On personal growth, I learned to work as a team. Admittedly, I seem to like being in a leadership role in the past. You equally learn a lot by listening and working together. This was also my first volunteer work abroad, so I am very happy. I will hopefully start volunteer programs of my own in the near future. There were undoubtedly both positives and negatives but I am very grateful of what I learned and experienced in Indonesia. It was quite an adventure!

Faizul H. Ibrahim

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