In this blog post I thought I would write a little about what I am doing here in Bali which is teaching English. I haven't taught English in about 5 years and even then it was to college-age students who had a pretty solid grasp of the language and just needed to be brought up to the level of academic English.
Here in Bali and I am teaching to grade 5, which here ranges from 9-12 years old. Their language ability varies just as much as their age. Almost all of them have a pretty good vocabulary and a pretty extensive one. However, they have only been taught rote memorization. They cannot think or create in English on their own. They want you to do it with them for every example and want you, aka me, to confirm that every answer is correct after they do each one before they will move on to the next one.
It is quite a different experience for me. There are volunteers here who have experience teaching young children in the US and even for them this need for constant validation and the inability to use the extensive English they have is a new phenomenon for them.
With all that being said I will say they are the most eager and fun students I have worked with. I have a small class of about 7 students and they run to me every morning when I get there and jump at almost every exercise I give them.
However, what really motivates them are stickers. The bigger and more ornate (meaning goggly eyes, etc.) the better. You can't find stickers in Bali so I raided my dollar store and brought a ton and I am a huge hit! They do start asking for a sticker for everything but I hold them back for doing well or for the end of the day. I even switched it up one day and gave a mini chocolate bar as a prize and they were disappointed and asked for a sticker instead! I couldn't believe they wanted to turn down chocolate!
I am having a blast coming up with materials and trolling the ESL website materials. There are such good materials created out there. So thank you to all the people I have borrowed materials from (legally I might add). The kids go through the material so fast. I hope they retain some of it. That is the hard part is that with these program - that there is no continuity from one volunteer to the next to keep these things going.
My advice to others hoping to do similar things is to raid your dollar or pound store for lots of stickers and school supplies since even good markers are hard to find here. Also, be fully engaged. I spend probably about 1.5 hours in the afternoon finding and copying material and then another hour in the evening arranging it all. I am teaching by myself so it may be easier with a partner but don't go in halfway. The kids deserve more and they will respond to as much as you give them. Don't be afraid to challenge them.
I also promise to add pictures to these blogs as soon as I get home. The wifi in Bali isn't great and my blogging software doesn't like to capture the images.
Another blog soon. I hope you enjoy these entries and I would love to hear about your teaching experiences abroad.
As I sit here in Bali getting ready to start my volunteer placement and ending my introduction week to Balinese culture, I was thinking about what I wanted to write about for my next blog topic. As I observe the people around me I came up with the perfect topic.
This is probably the 3rd or 4th time I have done volunteering abroad as the form of my vacation and this is the 2nd time I have noticed the pervasiveness of the following.
Young people - College age individuals and younger - going abroad to "volunteer" but doing little research on their location, not really caring about doing their actually volunteer work and worried more about going out at night and where they can go on the weekend than about respecting the local culture and customs. Before I go on I should say this isn't all young people but just the majority I have seen. There are some great young people going abroad doing amazing things but, unfortunately, they are the minority.
In terms of the topic at hand I will give you a few examples. In most places I have been there are teaching English placements and volunteers have to be up and ready to be engaged with 6-12 year olds for at least 3 hours a day. Unfortunately, they make many volunteers make the decision to go out and party hard the night before and are either still drunk, hungover or unable to keep up with this highly energetic group of individuals. Even worse some don't even make it to their placement because they sleep through it or are too hungover.
The lack of research and not respecting the customs and culture tend to go hand in hand. Several of the places I have been to have been more conservative than the western world yet I have seen volunteers walking the streets in a bikini and coverup or cutoffs and a strapless top and wondering why they are getting unwanted attention. This attire is fine for the beach areas but not for residential living as a volunteer. Most especially when they tell you to do the exact opposite.
Volunteering abroad is a means to see another country. However, it shouldn't be a time to let it all out if you are volunteering. That isn't to say you can't have an amazing time because you still can but you need to do your research about where your going and how you should act and dress so that you represent yourself and your country proudly. In this day and age connections are far reaching as is information so you can't use the excuse that I am from X so I didn't know.
There are still ways to travel cheaply without volunteering because sometimes volunteering isn't for everyone. I wish more young people would keep their actions in mind as they go into the global world and use the social media they are always on to do more research on where they are going as well as practice what they find.
I apologize for not blogging about my travel adventures in quite some time. It isn't that I haven't had them; in fact I have had quite a few. In reality, my job and other life events have intervened.
Right now I sit here writing this early in the morning from Bali. I am on a three week vacation volunteering with IVHQ teaching English. I am doing this right before I go back home and switch jobs and move to another state. This is job one of life circumstances that have happened in the past year. However, I am hoping the new environment and the new job will allow me to have some additional free time to write more on my blogs.
As I sit here experiencing jet lag due to the 12 hour time difference from home, I thought I would let you in on a few of the travel secrets I have encountered and used in just the time it took me to get to Bali.
First, I would always recommend using a non-US based airline for overseas travel. They tend to have much better service, food, entertainment, and seats. There are a few exceptions to this but, I don't want to call any airlines out. Additionally, many of them offer a few perks, even for economy passengers, that you would never be offered through a US based carrier.
Here are just a couple of examples. For this trip I am flying Qatar Airlines and on the way to Bali I had a 8 hour layover in Qatar. Typically this would be the most boring thing in the world and I would consider paying a slightly higher price to avoid this. However, Qatar offers a couple of special things you wouldn't see with many other airlines. For example, for flights with layovers over 5 hours certain types of tickets include a free hotel room and this also includes the visa. You need to call the airline and ask them if your ticket is eligible. My ticket was not. They also offer a free city tour of Doha, in this case, and this is offered 4 times a day on a first come, first serve basis. I was able to take advantage of this.
The tour lasts about 2.5 hours and then you need to add in the time it takes to get through immigration and customs on both ends. This is why you can only do this if you have at least a 5 hour layover or more. The tour is not super in-depth but it is free and Qatar covers your visa cost. The bus does make three stops so you can take photos and walk around a little and you do get to go the Souk Warat and do a little shopping. However, we were only there for 30 minutes and there is so much great stuff there and places to eat. 30 minutes is not enough time for me to get my haggle on! So I only had time to walk around some and buy a couple of small things.
The guide was great though and pointed out most of the important buildings and talked about how the man-made island was created.
This tour was a great way to get out of the airport, for free I might add, and see another city you might not expect to or not really have on your bucket list.
Iss feedback on the city, I would say Doha is definitely a rich city. I don't think I saw a beat up car and almost every car I saw was a BMW or a Land Rover. We were downtown most of the time though.
Other airlines do similar things. I know Turkish airlines will offer a day tour if you have a 24 layover there or they will create that kind of layover for you so you can experience their city. Icelandic Air will do this as well.
So the next time you book you flights make sure you explore the airlines webpage and see what other kinds of perks you can take advantage of that might expand your global perspective.
More later as I explore Bali!
The title of this blog really says it all. While in Rio de Janeiro I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a soccer/Futbol game at Maracana Stadium featuring the hometown team Flamengo vs a São Paulo team. What an experience it was. I almost can't even describe it but, I am going to see how it goes.
First, the month before I had attended a match in Dublin - the national Irish team vs. the Scots. I thought they were patriotic and crazy with all the men walking around wearing kilts and the chants and just the amazing energy. However that is nothing in comparison to what I experienced in Rio.
Rather than simply buy a ticket to the game I went through a guy. Yes, I had a guy. Tangent - I would highly recommend Sergio and his services to anyone who goes to Rio and wants to see a soccer/Futbol match. He is extremely knowledgeable, ensures you get there and back safely, had amazing seats, and provides you with the true local Brazilian experience.
So what is the true local Brazilian experience? Well, it begins with a metro ride towards the stadium. However, you get off before the stadium since just like in Dublin you cannot drink in the stadium so everyone must pregame and get all of their drinking done prior to the start of the game. So instead of heading directly to the stadium we headed to the Flamengo fans party which happens several blocks prior to the stadium.
This is where the true spirit of the people is felt. The street is so thick with people you can barely walk. What I loved was energy, it was infectious. Everyone sang with the team songs and they had huge flags for the Flamengos. Men, women, and children got into the singing. Plus there was street food and plenty of beverages of all kinds. Sergio even handed out the words to the songs so we could join in if we wanted.
When we got to the stadium we made our way inside and it seems to not really matter where you sit. As long as you are cheering for the Flamengos. Due to that we had amazing seats and could see the whole field and really the whole stadium.
The game was amazing but to me it almost more entertaining to watch and enjoy the reactions of the Brazilians to the game. For one thing the drums never stopped the entire game and the huge flags never stopped flying. Every play provoked some sort of emotion whether disappointment or joy. Goals had strangers hugging strangers and bad plays had seat mates commiserating.
It was a fabulous evening that I would repeat again in a heartbeat and would encourage anyone going to Rio or other large cities in Brazil to take advantage of. If you are going to Rio I highly recommend you checking out Sergio's blog and go with him since you really get the true Brazilian experience vs. just the visitor experience.
I have become even more of a soccer/Futbol than I was before. Enjoy some of my pictures from that day.
For this post I thought I would write a little about one aspect that I love about traveling overseas - seeing old friends in new places (for me). Whenever I travel I try and see any friends I have meet in the U.S. or abroad and reconnect with them in my host country.
In Brazil I have had the opportunity to visit one of my grad school friends in her home town of Belo Horizonte. Besides this area having some of the best views I have seen in a really long time and some of the best food, I also was able to connect with my friend and talk as well as hang out as if the 10 years between grad school and now had never passed. That was amazing.
Having a local take you around their home territory is so much better than trying to do this yourself because they will tell you just the information you need to know about the places you visit vs. the long winded speeches tour guides tend to give. Also, they know all the good places to eat. They tend to like taking guests around too because it allows them to be tourists in their home city and see things they haven't seen before or never take the time to see.
Additionally, for me, it helped me in the process of learning Brazilian Portuguese because even though my friend is fluent in English her family didn't all speak fluent English. So while I can't speak Portuguese very well it helped with my listening comprehension and we had great conversations about different translations of words, family issues, what the U.S. and Brazil were like and more.
Finally, one of the best parts is the home cooked meals. I haven't eaten so much food in one weekend in a long time and all of it was good. Most of it was local dishes and delicious fruit too. Those who know me will know I am a sucker for anyone who is willing to cook me a home cooked meal so I was right at home.
In the end it is simply great to see people you know and have an insider experience in a new place. Plus have the ability to catch up with an old friend in person.
I highly recommend this.
Have you done this before? What has been your experience?
Traveling in my 30s seems to be a lot different than traveling in my 20s. I haven't quite figured if this phenomenon is unique to me or if it is wide spread.
I can tell you what I have observed particularly these first few days on my latest trip since this is the first trip in a long time where I am living in a group environment, a hostel, and not in a hotel or a homestay. I have found that the constant chatter and the noise level of the 20-23 year old volunteers living in the same place grates on my nerves. The ones here complain about the housing because there are rules in place they don't like. Of course, none of them have ever been to other hostels where they have even stricter rules. I will say it isn't all of them but some of them.
The entitlement issues seem to be larger as well. I actually heard a girl argue with her parents about the fact that she should get to spend her parents' money how she wants because she wants to travel.
Also, every other word out of these volunteer's mouths is F this and Sh** that. I can't imagine talking like that in general or speaking to my mother that way or even bringing that topic up especially if my parents were being kind enough to fund part or all of my experience.
Additionally, all they talk about is where they are going out that night and what I want to do is go to a museum or see a samba show, etc. I have no interest in drinking until I get drunk and not being able to get up the next morning which seems to be the schedule at least 3-4 nights a week.
I think for me since I have always paid for all my experiences myself or have earned them in some way through scholarships or grants that the way these other volunteers don't take advantage or what is around them really bothers me.
I think even when I traveled in my 20s I am all about seeing the sites and not partying. I guess I am a different breed that way.
Before I don't think the noise bothered me as much and I could push it off. Now since I work in international education and want everyone to have a transformative experience, and maybe they are on some level, I can't ignore it as much and can only take it in small doses.
So I think it is both my working in the field for 10 years that is seeing wasted potential and me personal who has a different agenda for her travel.
What do you think? Have you had a similar experience?
More on Brazil itself later.
Due to all the traveling that I do personally and, more so, for my job people assume that I am a good packer. That part is true. I am an excellent packer. I can pack quite a bit in an extremely small space and I am great at getting difficult items, like wine or liquor bottles, safely from point A to point B. However, being good at packing does extend itself to liking packing. I actually hate it. I also don't use the word hate lightly so you know how much I dislike it. It is only the packing from home to departure that his horrible not from the hotel or homestay to home; that is easy.
I generally postpone packing until the very last minute because of how much I despise it. I have thought about it and I think why I hate packing with such a passion is that it takes so long and you have to literally think about everything you use throughout the week and make sure you have some form of it or you will need to buy it. People will say "don't worry if you forget something because you can buy it there". However, that doesn't work if you live on a budget or if you travel international as much as I do because you can't afford to keep buying all you forget and/or you won't be able to find what you forgot since you can't figure out what it is in that language or they just don't have what you need.
Finally, the last frustrating aspect is I am packing things I am using so I either need to pack something or wait until the last minute to close my bag because I still need something. Some say I should have duplicates of everything because I won't need to do this but this doesn't make sense to me because some of those things are expensive like make-up, hair straighteners, etc. I definitely have refillable bottles of toiletries I keep stocked and filled as I can. I also try to make a list as well so I don't forget anything because there is nothing more frustrating when you have a two hour drive to the airport and halfway there you remember you forgot something. However, nothing takes away from the pain of packing especially when you do it so often.
If you have any tips I would love to hear them.
My question to all of you is what are your feelings on packing? Do you make a packing list? How far in advance to you pack? I would love to hear your packing stories.
Quiero empezar este blog con una declaración que creo es muy fuerte que ninguna persona debe pagar miles de dólares para participar en trabajo de voluntario en otros países. Aunque, el trabajo de voluntarido no debe ser gratis. Usted tiene que pagar por los servicios que usan o se proveen. Los ejemplos incluyen: comida, transportación en el país alojamiento y oportunidades de viajar a otros partes del país. No tengo oposición a que organización de trabajo cargue una cuota administrativa por el trabajo que hace en asistir y ayudar con las logisticas, pero solamente si el precio es justo y basado en el proyecto, la duración de la estancia y otras cosas importantes. También está bien incluir una pequeña cuota a la organización voluntaria por su asistencia en trabaja con usted.
Tengo preocupaciónes éticas y morales cuando una organización carga tres mil dolares o más por un program de 2 o 3 semanas en otros países. Este precio no incluye el costo del vuelo del país. No quiero mencionar los nombres de las organizaciones que cargan estos precios porque hay más nombres de los que pude mencionar. Esto es muy triste. También penso que estos precios son poco éticos y atroces. El objeto de trabajo voluntario tiene dos partes y dos partes solamante. La primera parte debe exponer a la gente a culturas diferentes, situaciones, y estilos de vidas. También debe proveer asistencia, ideas nuevas, intercambio cultural, y más a la organización local. Nunca debe ser una maquina de hacer dinero. Es cierto que las personas de la compañia necesitan sobrevivir. No estoy diciendo que los empleados de estos tipos de organizaciones necesitan ser mártires o gente muy piadosa. Aunque, la gente que trabajar en educación internacional nunca debe empezar una empresa con la idea de hacer millones de dolares particularmente con el dinero de la gente que quiere complir un buen trabajo en otros países.
Entonces, ¿cómo encontrar programas para voluntarios buenos que sean dignos de confianza, trabajar con buen objectivo para evitar los programas malos?
Aquí hay preguntas/cosas para considerar.
1. Realize una completa búsquedas de Google.
Hay muchismo grupos y programas para voluntarios en el mundo. No vaya con el primer programa o el programa que parece bueno.
2. Pida los costos que incluyen los precios individuals de todo para ver dónde su dinero va.
3. Pida hablar con los actuales o recientes voluntarios que regresaron saber sus reacciones y su gerencias.
4. No confie solamente en las reacciones de otras personas pero busque otras reacciones en la web.
5.Pueden ellos garantizar todas las cosas que usted solicite y todas las cosas que dicen van a proveer. ¿También pueden ellos garantizar estas en escrito?
6. Haga todas las preguntas que necesita para tener confianza en el programa.
Usted puede pensar un parásito pero esto es su programa. Aunque no pague $3,000 dolares, está pagando una significativa suma de dinero y tiempo. Necesita tener confianza que estos van al lugar perfecto y vale la pena.
7. Busca todo de lugar de dónde va.
Sugiero que no provea mucho información que cambie los programas. Los sitios de programas necesitan dar toda la información que usted necesita sobre el programa. Se no tiene mucha información, generalmente, es un signo que el programa no está bien preparado o tiene otros problemas.
8. Sugiero que no responda a su primer email en 3 días de oficina para pruebe otros programas.
Las respuestas rápidas son un signo de buena comunicación. Solamente trabajo con organizaciones que pueden comunicarse rápido y efectivo con usted. Por favor, recuerdo que hay diferencias en tiempos en otras partes del mundo y necesita más paciencia con esto.
También si no puede responder a sus preguntas después de su primer email nunca pague un depósito. Necesita toda la información antes de pagar algo.
9. Haga su investigación sobre los costos de las cosas del país que está viajando.
Es posible que tenga mayor poder de negociación con más información.
10. Finalmente, importante también. Nunca permita que otras personas le hagan cambiar de opinión de un programa especialmente si tiene dudads o preguntas.
Si tiene dudas o preguntas entonces tome el tiempo necesario para pensar más y preguntar más. Recuerde este es su programa y su dinero. Usted hace la decisión.
Está bien que usted trabaja con una organización en el país que es anfitrión del programa. Muchas veces pueden más baratos y tienen mejores coneciones. Siga los consejos arriba todavía.
Si usa estas recomendaciones usted tiene una mejor oportunidad de descubrir un programa para voluntarios mejor fabuloso y un programa que le queda en su presupuesto.
Si tiene preguntas, mandéme un email a email@example.com.
Mandy es la directora de educación internacional en una universidad en el sur de Maryland. También ella es la dueña de Mandy's Mashups. Esta es una compañia que enseñar a la gente de media sociales de la web. Tenemos webinars y talleres. También estamos a su disposición para consultar con su oficina de una estrategia efectiva de media sociales.
I want to start this blog by emphatically stating that I firmly believe that no one should have to pay thousands of dollars to do volunteer work abroad. However, this does mean volunteer work should be completely free. You should have to pay for the services that you are using and/or being provided. Examples may include: housing, meals, in-country transportation, and excursion opportunities. I am also not opposed to the organization you are working through charging an administrative fee for the work they put into placing you and for logistics, as long as it is reasonable, based on duration of stay, project, etc. It would be okay as well to include a small payment to the organization you are being placed at for hosting you and as a gesture of good will.
However, where my ethical and moral concerns come in is when organizations/providers charge $3,000 or more for 2-3 weeks of volunteering abroad. This price does not include airfare either. I am not going to name organizations because, unfortunately, there are too many to list. I find this pricing atrocious and unethical. The main objectives of volunteer work should be two fold and two fold only. It should be to expose people to different cultures, ways of life, situations, etc. It is also to provide assistance, new ideas, cultural exchange, and more to local organizations. What it never should be is a money maker for the host organization/provider. Yes, people, need to survive and I am not stating people who operate volunteer programs need to become martyrs and pious people. However, as with almost anything related to international education you shouldn't be getting into this to suddenly make millions, especially on the backs of people that want to good work abroad.
How do you find good, trustworthy, and vetted volunteer programs so you can avoid the scam programs that are out there?
Here are a few questions you can ask and things you can do:
1. Conduct Google Searches
There are a ton of volunteer organizations and providers out there, don't just go with the first one that sounds good.
2. Ask the provider/organization for a quote that includes a breakdown of the costs so you can see where you money is going.
3. Ask to speak to current or recently returned volunteers to get their feedback.
4. Don't just take their feedback - look for reviews online.
5. Check out the organization's/provider's website.
If it doesn't provide much information, I would suggest moving on to another program on your list. Program websites should give you almost everything you need to know about your program. If they don't, it is a sign that there could be problems with the program.
6. If the organization/provider doesn't answer your inquiry email within 3 business days move on to another program on your list.
Prompt responses are a sign of good communication. You only want to work with organizations that can communicate with you effectively and promptly. However, keep in mind any time differences and have some extra patience with this.
This same idea applies to responses. If they don't respond to your questions after your first email, never pay a deposit. You need to have all your questions answered and sufficient program information before you pay any money.
7. Make sure the organization/provider can guarantee, in writing, everything you are requesting and they say they can provide.
8. Ask as many questions as you need to in order to feel comfortable with the organization/provider.
Yes, you may think you are being a pest by asking so many questions but, this is your program and even if you aren't spending $3,000 you will still be spending a significant amount of money and time and you want to ensure it is going to the right place and you are getting your money's worth.
9. Do your own research on how much thing's cost in the host country you are going to.
You may have some negotiating power with increased knowledge.
10. Last, but not least, never let anyone talk you into a program you are unsure of or have questions about.
If you don't know or are unsure, take the time to think it over and/or ask more questions.
Remember this is your program and in the end your money. So you make the decisions.
It is also okay to go with an in-country provider. They tend to be cheaper and also tend to have better connections. Just follow the above advise.
If you use these tips you have a much better chance of still finding an amazing volunteer program as well as something that fits within your budget.
Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at SmallPlanetStudio.com.
Mandy Reinig is the Director of International Education at a college in Southern Maryland. She is also the owner and founder of Mandy's Mashups. A company that provides training, particularly to the international education and travel fields, on effective use of social media. We offer webinars and workshops routinely and are available to provide consulting to your office/organization on creating an effective social media strategy.
If you are a solo traveler you know that one of the most vulnerable times of your travel is during your transportation periods. Many times you have take a leap of faith and hope that whoever is driving or piloting will take you where you asked to go. This seems to be even riskier for female travelers just from the stories we hear from abroad and even in the United States of females being attacked and worse. However, this does often happen to males as well.
In this blog, I am not necessarily going to offer tips on how you can keep yourself safe during those transportation periods, although tips will certainly come through. Instead I want to talk about one service I have found that seems to minimize some of the risk solo travelers take when getting into their transportation. It is also to highly encourage travelers to make use of these options as well as to do their research.
For the most part, as travelers, we are basically stuck with what is there when it comes to traveling via plane, train, or boat. However, we can take control of how we travel via automobile. In the U.S., and now in other countries as well, there is a new service called Uber, that is an app that you download to your phone and you can set your location and a driver will come pick you up.
You may be asking, "How is this different than a taxi?". It is different in several ways. One of the most important, in my opinion, is that no cash exchanges hands. You enter your payment method when you create an app with the app and the system tracks where you are going and includes a tip. When you get out of the car the money is automatically taken out of your account and you don't have to worry about getting change or if they taxi will take cards.
The other aspect I really like about this service is that the drivers are all rated by every passenger that they have. It is a 5 star rating system and if a driver receives anything below a 4 they are pulled from the system for a while until they can prove themselves again. This means they are thoroughly vetted individuals. There cars are exceptionally clean and usually newer.
When you book the taxi, it tells you how long it will take them to get to you and you can follow their progress via the app. However, even more importantly it sends you a photo of the driver and the make and model of their car as well as their license plate number.
Uber cars tend to be quite a bit cheaper than taxis and they have different levels of cars you can request depending on your needs.
Currently, Uber is only available in larger cities in the U.S. but, they are also spreading to other countries. It you are doing any sort of traveling I would highly recommend you make use of this service. Yes, you can have a reliable taxi service that you know of but, even with that you never know if you are going to get a great driver and/or a decent car. With this it is guaranteed each time.
It is also great when you can reduce any possible risk you have while traveling. Additionally, it saves time and money which are always a plus.
If you have had similar experiences with transportation like this I would love to hear about it and it would be great to share similar services with my readers.
Mandy Reinig is the Founder and Owner of Mandy's Mashups. She travels the world for her work in international education as well as to expand her knowledge of other cultures. She has extensive knowledge of social media and international travel.
This blog contains my travel adventures, tips, advice and more. Enjoy the ride!