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Volunteers Abroad

Leaving a mark on the children of Yogyakarta

After graduating from The Royal School of Library and Information Science back in February, I immediately thought of how I can as a young person, as a librarian, and as an AIESEC’er contribute to making an impact on the world and improving it.

After considering my options, I decided to join AIESEC’s Global Volunteer program. The next question popping up was “Where do I want to go?” To me, that question was not as important as “What I wanted to do?” After finishing reading “I am Malala”, I realized, I wanted to contribute to solving either #SDG4 Quality Education or #SDG5 Gender Equality, where I could combine my academic background with my interest in education. The result was working with English teaching in “Project Playground” in Yogyakarta Indonesia, where I soon realized that it was much needed.

A group photo of all the exchange participants, local volunteers and AIESEC'ers in the project

When I first arrived in Yogyakarta I was picked up by my host brother and buddy, who took me to where I would stay for the next 6 weeks. In the project, we were 10 internationals from all over the world doing this project and 10 local volunteers. We all wanted to make an impact on the children of Yogyakarta and in the end, we did that by teaching the children age 5-12 very basic English, showcasing our countries culture by having a mini Global Village and empowering them to dream big. Besides doing the project I was lucky enough to get the chance to teach English at my host families tutoring school, where I actually was directly challenged and had conversations with the students. In the beginning, they were very shy and to some extent afraid of me. In those two lessons, I could see the direct impact I had and how the students became much more confident in speaking English.

The English class at my host family's tutoring school

After a few weeks, I realized how fortunate I am to live in a country with so many opportunities and so much support. This experience has definitely put my tiny problems into perspective and made me much more grateful. It also made me question: Don’t I have a responsibility to look outside of this tiny country up north?

‍Rice fields

What surprised me the most about Indonesia was how friendly and warm everyone was to me as a foreigner, wherever I went people came up to me and wanted to take a photo or practice their English with me. It was in those moments, I really understood how important it is to be open-minded and not to be afraid of strangers, as I was told as a child in Denmark.

‍Post water-flight picture with my Chinese friend

So, the big question is: What did I learn from this experience? I guess I learned to be solution-oriented when I faced challenges and not give up, to empower others, challenge people and last but not least it has made me much more self-aware. Having faced struggles and challenges I grew as a person, learned so much more about what I’m capable of and became much more aware of my role in the world and how I can contribute to making it a better place. As a librarian, I now have a completely different way of looking at the institution and what my role is going to be in it. I now have a much better understanding of what it is to be a Muslim and have a better understanding of other cultures.

‍Sunset at Bali
Some people look at challenges as an obstacle, I now look at them as an option to learn. Without challenges how can you grow as a person and learn?
Written by
Chloe Christensen
Her name is Chloe, she's a librarian, she's from Copenhagen and is 25 years old.