Monica and Magnus did a great job of volunteering under the Building Bridges Beyond Borders programme in Malaysia in 2017…..
We quit our jobs at the beginning of this year to go travelling and volunteering in South East Asia. After a few months of travelling in five countries, we began our volunteering placement at [the Myanmar refugee school in Kuala Lumpur].
Out of the many months we spent in Asia, the three months we had with the kids were the most amazing of them all. It’s easy to understand why the moment you step into the school…
The kids are relentless, so eager to play and learn and chat, and of course snuggle!
It’s impossible to be a stranger here. As soon as you walk through the door, dozens of little ones start jumping up and down and all over you, yelling out their names at the top of their lungs. “Teacher!!! Me, S-A-R-A, you?” In their world, there are no awkward introductions or much debate before they invite you to play.
And so we started our first day, telling them about us and where we come from, not knowing what to say when asked why we are so incredibly tall, and asking them about their secret ability (most are stars at football, singing, and drawing).
Both of us taught to C (age 8-11), D (age 12-13) and E (age 13-16) groups. I taught English Grammar and Language and IT, and Magnus covered Maths and Science. We took turns teaching Geography, which was a subject all kids really loved.
Although being perceived as the fun teacher was very tempting, we both focused on teaching the children as much as possible in the time we were there. We made up competitions, educational games, we gave them exams, and really tried to offer them the structure and discipline they need.
The following three months with them just flew by, doing a lot of teaching, playing, being naughty, winning and losing in competitions, and burning LOTS of calories. Although the days were super hot, the A/C barely worked and the carpet was smelly (rat pee), teaching these kids was the most amazing experience of our lives.
These are kids that don’t have much, but their love of life is infectious, and certainly puts things into perspective. Meeting them has been life-changing for us both and has made us realise how many things we take for granted, in life, in Europe, in general.
These kids are so uncomplicated and happy with the little they have. They have a deep sense of camaraderie and if they own an extra piece of candy, they will offer it to their friend or teacher. Stuff like that makes you love them so much and makes you feel so privileged to have met such kind people.