28 Aug

VP Bali and the Community: Empowering from the Ground Up

The island of Bali is unique from the rest of Indonesia in the fact that it has become an international melting pot of cultures from around the world. One may even experience a bit of western culture shock arriving in Bali from somewhere else in Southeast Asia. While these influences can create a vibrant atmosphere for visitors, so many cultures being pushed into one island can make it difficult for Balinese people to maintain their traditions.

The international tourism community in Bali has become more permanently settled over time. Western culture has become so ingrained in certain parts of the island that a few westerners believe that they have the answers to solve the problems facing the Balinese today. We find that these efforts are often not aligned with the true interests of the Balinese people. Because these efforts are organized from a point above local communities, there is a disconnect between the mission of outsiders and the locals their organizations effect.

It is very important to us that our presence is not an intrusion against established local customs. That we are not here to fix problems, but instead give Balinese youth and their families opportunity to grow successfully amongst a rapidly changing society centered on tourism. We give Balinese the tools to succeed without losing their daily traditions, the focus on family and religion, and the gentle kindness of their everyday demeanor that makes Bali, Bali.

We do this through a few different elements of our organization. Before VP Bali grew to where we are today, our founder Kimberley made an effort to create close relationships with the local communities she lived amongst. These connections were strengthened through members of our local staff, who understand community dynamics and know which families need the most help. Instead of putting out a blanket call for help, VP Bali hears the stories of those who can truly benefit from working with us, and creates opportunities specific to their needs and skillset.

We empower our kids and local staff to be proud of their traditions through events such as cultural exchange, cooking classes, and temple ceremonies. Students get to play teacher and teach their volunteers traditions such as Balinese dance and offering making. When our volunteers are included in local temple ceremonies, our local staff helps them respectfully participate.

Kimberley and our staff’s close community ties means that we can more easily see the changing nature of local culture from the ground level, to better understand what holds Balinese people back from achieving their fullest potential. Our team witnesses first-hand the changing aspects of Balinese culture, such as the disappearing presence of traditional customs and rituals in younger generations. With this in mind, we cater the mission and growth of VP Bali to the specific challenges facing local communities today.

Through all of our efforts, we never want Balinese to lose sight of how beautiful their society is without any western influence. That through the opportunities they are provided, they can succeed while still holding onto the traditions that make Balinese culture beautifully unique.

21 Aug

10 reasons to come to Bali according to our local staff and students

Why do Balinese think their island is worth a visit?

Get ready! You are going to Bali! As we all know Bali is very popular among travellers. But are you curious to learn the real reasons to go to Bali from a local point of view? With the help of our students and local staff members we are ready to shed the light on this question – here are the main reasons why you should really get on that plane to Bali!

1. Bali is a very famous island not only in Indonesia, but all over the world. Many people dream to get to Bali. And if you can run into people like David Beckham, Barack Obama and Julia Roberts on your way to school or work, it definitely proves that Bali is is one of the most popular tourist destinations for everyone!

2. Bali has an amazing and diverse nature – one can enjoy beaches, forests, rice fields and terraces, waterfalls, lakes, rivers and even volcanos! Where else can you enjoy such a variety of nature? Just an insider’s tip; try not only to stay on the main roads but get off the beaten track and discover even more beauty!

3. The island of Bali is famous for its delicious traditional cuisine. Nasi Ayam, Nasi Campur, Lawar, Bebek, Mi Goreng, Babi Guling, Balung, Tum, Pepes, Ares – it is a real jam and all gourmets should try these mouth-watering dishes! What is even more exciting is that you can eat traditional Balinese food with your hands – and it actually tastes much better that way!

4. Hospitality, friendliness and politeness – this is what Balinese people are all about. Balinese are very easy in the communication and easy-going people. They smile and are happy to have a conversation even with a stranger. The best way to experience the real Balinese life is staying at a homestay. Living with a Balinese family and really see the daily life of the locals!

5. Island of gods, island of thousand temples, island of paradise…All these titles have appeared thanks to the unique rich culture of Balinese people. They have their own dialect, art, music, crafts, many rituals, holidays and ceremonies. So many fascinating things you can learn and even take part in as the Balinese are more than happy to show you their culture. Try to really connect with the locals and you will probably get invited to join a Balinese ceremony or a wedding!

6. Balinese are never bored, there are just too many fun things to do! Start the day with a visit to the local market, sipping a coffee overlooking the morning life by the side of the road, go for a ride through the villages and visit one of Bali’s amazing beaches. Especially in the afternoons during the weekend, you will see the beaches full with Balinese families enjoying their day off with their family!

7. Sports! Did you know that the Balinese love playing badminton, futsal or volleyball? And they are amazing surfers and great at yoga? Just about everything! And whether you are a pro or beginner, they are happy to teach you or have you in their team for a game or two.

8. We’ve mentioned it before but it is worth to enhance a bit more. You haven’t seen Bali if you haven’t been to the local market in the morning. Each village has their market and even though it is for early birds (best time to go is about 6-6.30 AM), it is all worth it. Exotic fruits, 1000 different kinds of vegetables and spices, offerings and much more. It is colorful and vibrant, and the experience is even more complete if you go with one of your new Balinese friends who are able to tell you all about everything you see!

9. Traveling to another country is always exciting and fun. And what makes it even more fun if you can really communicate with the locals. So why not learn a few words Bahasa Indonesia while you are in Bali? You will see that the Balinese love it when you make the effort of speaking their language, and it definitely helps you bond and understand the Balinese culture.

10. Eat in local restaurants as much as you can. Bali has many options to dine and sometimes it would make you feel you are in your home country with all the choices of foreign cuisines. However, eating with the locals really enriches your experience. Even though local restaurants aren’t as cosy, clean or fancy as that Italian restaurant next door, it really is an experience to never forget!

Are you already planning your holiday to Bali? Just a few last tips of our students and local staff; be yourself, be open to the culture and take care of the environment. Connect with the Balinese and think out of the box. It will definitely be an unforgettable journey and a holiday to never forget!
14 Aug

17th August – Independence Day. But what is it really all about?

Can you imagine how lucky you are if you are in Indonesia on the 17th of August? This date marks the Indonesian independence day, a very special and important day for Indonesian people. If you are in the country on this date, make sure you don’t miss the celebrations and events, it is definitely worth it and for sure gives you an unforgettable experience. We asked our students to tell us a little bit more about this day and its meaning for them.

Let’s start with a little background of the history of this holiday. The country had been a Dutch colony for over 300 years, but on the 17th of August in 1945 the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence was signed and read by Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta. Moreover, the national flag of Indonesia was unveiled: the red colour represents courage and the white one – purity. Since then, the Indonesia’s Independence Day is always celebrated on the 17th of August. This is the day of liberty and happiness – Indonesian people are very proud of their country!

 
At school, Indonesian children are preparing for their march walk weeks before the big day. When you drive around the streets you will see groups of children marching their way up, all to get ready and be prepared for the competition on the 17th of August. Schools in the same district compete with each other and it is amazing to see how well these kids practiced and march like real soldiers!

So how do Indonesians celebrate this meaningful holiday and what can you expect on this day? The day always starts and ends with the flag ceremony. The Indonesian president will do so on National television and all over Indonesia the local government follows him in this traditional and official ceremony where the Indonesian flag is being raised joined by marching soldiers and local officials.

The rest of the day is full with activities. Besides the marching competitions there are lot of exciting activities! Indonesian people organize majestic parades, heartwarming and soulful community gatherings, engaging and spectacular sport events (for example sack races), enjoyable cultural and arts festivals. Extreme and thrill lovers try to climb a pinang tree covered in soap to reach a prize – this is a very common amusing competition!

 
A compulsory nice addition to the Independence Day are delicious treats. Traditions of celebrating include eating the wonderful Indonesian crackers known as “kerupuk” hanging on a string. Take care of your fingers – you can bite them off with the traditional goodies!  

When we asked our students what they love most about this holiday, the answers were divers. Some are enjoying all the games the most. Did you know that a lot of the games played are still coming from the Dutch but with an Indonesian touch? The boys are most excited about climbing the poles while the girls love to watch the parade.

One can choose his or her preferred way of celebration this national holiday but the one thing remains the same – the sense of pride and joy for the country! The atmosphere of the holiday is distinguished by excitement, enthusiasm, delight, glee and gladness!

Now then, the Independence Day is a very significant holiday, because it means the uniting, freedom and self-sufficiency of Indonesian people. It is the day of cohesion, friendship, love to motherland and respect for the past. What is important, even if you are not an Indonesian, you can join the holiday, feel its atmosphere and enjoy the amazing emotions! And we are going to celebrate the Independence Day with our students – so stay tuned!
17 Jul

A glimpse at our founder’s day

Ever wonder how our incredible founder Kimberley spends her day? Here’s a peek:
 
5AM: Who let the dogs out? Kimberley.
Kimberley is an early bird. She starts her day most of the time at 5am. First she lets the dogs out, once that’s done, she can enjoy the bed by herself. Some of them are also really eager and come back straight.
We all know that Kimberley loves animals, but do you know that she has 5 dogs and 4 cats that calls her mom? Luckily they are all quite independent and can walk themselves around her village – She just need to open her doors! 😉

 

5.10AM
Snooze time, after the packs are out and about – Kimberley finally gets to enjoy the bed all by herself! – Yeah well…sometimes with exceptions 😉

 

 

6AM
Sometimes it depends on how late the previous day ends, but normally Kimberley uses this time of the day to go through her daily to-do-list. Once that is done, she will… open Facebook and Instagram to check on how everyone is doing! Gotta be social hey! 🙂

 

After checking the social media Kimberley makes herself a cup (or three cups) of coffee and starts attacking the emails! (We all know how responsive VP Bali is when it comes to responding to emails and queries…) Who says this has to be done from the desk? 😉

 

Finally, to energize herself with positive emotions for the whole day, Kimberley will watch a short cartoon. Time to get up and face the word!

 

 

8AM
Time to shower and look great!

 

 

8.45AM – 10 AM
Paperwork! Because even though one lives in Bali, you still have to clear your paperwork…

 

10AM – 12Noon
Our founder uses this time to prepare for school activities and events. When necessary she will also meet her staff and tackle tasks together 🙂
 
12 Noon – 12.30PM
LUNCH!

 

 

12.45PM – 4.30PM
PLAY time! At school Kimberley spends her time to play with the kids, volunteers, and also to help teach in some classes. She will also use this time to analyse and note down things to improve because we believe in continuous growth! 🙂

 

 

 4.30PM – 5.30PM
It is one of Kimberley’s talents to split her day in enough pieces, so that everyone has the chance to meet up with her. And this doesn’t always needs to be in an office, right? 😉 Let’s discuss the upcoming projects with the interns!

 

 

5.30PM – 7PM
Time to evaluate the day! Either with staff, interns, or volunteers, Kimberley will go through her last meeting of the day and/or sort things up during this time.

 

8PM onwards
Depending on the day (Wednesday night is blocked for staff and Thursday is blocked for our weekly Thursday Dinner) Kimberley will be sprinkling the final magic dust on her tasks! Once that’s done she will happily jump in bed and catch some rest – well after her last cartoon of the day at least! 😉

 

And that’s it! 24 hours as Volunteer Programs Bali’s founder! 🙂 

 

11 Jul

“The VP Bali Way”: Education Through Play

At VP Bali, we believe in education as the greatest form of opportunity. Through our after school English classes, we want our kids to understand that education doesn’t need to just mean advancing to the next level or passing a vocabulary test. Through what we like to call “The VP Bali Way: Education Through Play”, the fun and creative learning techniques in our classrooms are designed to empower and inspire our students every day!

As compared to that of the west, Indonesia’s public school curriculum is very basic, and focuses on benchmarks and passing exams to help students get to the next level. The curriculum does not focus as much on life skills and personal development, such as learning how to solve problems and multi-task. We believe these missing pieces are crucial to helping Balinese youth reach their fullest potential.

Our vision of education as a journey, not an end goal, is seen through the fun creative learning techniques we use in our classes. Dancing, song, games, and small competitions are just some of the playful ways we keep our students attentive and coming back every day to learn! While repetition of subjects make may take more time, learning through play encourages the students to bring home what they gain from the classroom. We ask our volunteers to really let their guard down, so that when our kids see them having fun – they feel more empowered to let their unique personalities shine and build confidence.

We also keep things interesting outside of the classroom with activities such as weekly cleanups, monthly recycling events, cultural exchanges, “Student of the Month” awards, and guest workshops! We want our classes to be something students look forward to every day, knowing that they gain much more than new vocabulary.

Through creative learning, our students learn the benefits of education past simply moving up to the next benchmark. By stepping outside of the box, they can expand their boundaries to open up opportunities for personal and eventually professional development. We believe that when students grow with this attitude of education, it keeps them empowered to continue learning even when a time comes that they can no longer afford school and must work to help their families. To help our older students with those hard decisions, we provide VP Bali scholarships to help our most dedicated students pay for their public school.

Looking forward, we hope that the individuals we are work with at VP Bali are inspired by an open and fun attitude towards education, and will continue to spread our message through their communities long after they leave our classroom.

 

03 Jul

Traveling Deeper: The Benefits of Volunteering During a Long-Term Trip

Amongst our volunteers, we always see a mix of different types of travelers. While many of them make the trip to Bali just to volunteer, we often host travelers who are making a stop during long-term travel. For backpackers that are on the road for extended periods of time, stopping in Bali to volunteer and give back can add an entire other dimension to your travels!

As a long-term backpacker, it’s easy to experience sensory overload zooming from city to city. Especially for those who pack their trips into shorter periods of time, seeing everything at such a fast pace means surface level interaction with locals, usually through tours and major tourist attractions. While this allows backpackers the chance to cross a lot of their list, there’s an aspect of getting to know the local culture missing from their trip.

One benefit of including volunteering into your itinerary is giving yourself the opportunity to rest. To breathe in your surroundings fully and wholeheartedly, let your body collect and recover from the night buses and flight connections. The days that have been flying by begin to slow, allowing time for reflection, balance, and grounding. Your mind and body can finally have space to breathe with a sense of routine again. What better place to rejuvenate than our peaceful community of Ubud?

More importantly, stopping to volunteer allows backpackers to travel deeper. Looking beyond rice paddy tours and island hopping, giving your time to our kids and supporting our mission creates a purposeful and meaningful dimension of your trip. Our close community ties mean that our volunteers get to know members of Balinese communities on a personal level – to hear their stories, learn about their traditions, and understand the important values of their culture.

Particularly on Bali, much of the beauty of our island lies in the details. Between the smallest aspects of offerings, to the hand movements of Balinese dance – everything in Balinese culture is done intently with purpose. It is only the people of this beautiful culture who can truly explain the intricate details of their traditions.

So for those planning a long-term travel, we invite you to spend a little bit longer here in Bali with us. To join our mission of inspiring and empowering Balinese communities, and to travel a little deeper than you would as just a tourist.

 

23 Jun

Ubud Know-How

Excited to start living in Ubud? Here’s an expanding list of our volunteers, interns, and staff’s favourite spots, food, and running track!

The Onion Collective//Passion Lab

This donation-based co-working space also has a nice outdoor boho-ish cafe, cocktail happy hour is until 9pm and guess what? You can use their outdoor pool for free if you order any food/beverage (tips: bring your own towel). Did we mention they have a water slide as well? 😉
Less than 15 minutes walk from Volunteers’ Accommodation.

Dian Cafe

For those who rather sticks with Beer, the last time we went here Large Bintang is only 30k – hands down cheapest beer along the monkey forest street!
Less than 10 minutes walk from Volunteers’ Accommodation.

Goutama Spa

Great Balinese Massage at 80k/hour tried and tested multiple time and still one of the best for the price! Best time to go will be after your Agung/Batur hiking trip to loosen up all the sore muscles 🙂
Less than 2 minutes walk from Volunteers’ Accommodation.

CP Lounge

The only place in Ubud that opens till dawn… Gotta try their rainbow shots (don’t forget to ask the bartender for the fire show!).
CP Lounge is about 5 minutes walk from volunteer’s accommodation.

Black Pearl

Pirates on board! When in doubt ask Jack not-Sparrow of what to order – we recommend you to save a little bit of spot for their awesome chocolate lava cake!
You might need to take a scooter fro this one as it’s located at Jalan Bisma, about 15-20 minutes walk or 5 minutes scooter ride from Volunteer’s accommodation!

Bungkus

Literally means packed – it usually cost around 10k-20k for decent amount of rice, a little bit of lawar (balinese style vegetable), a little bit of meat (pork or chicken), and balinese sambal. Definitely a value meal! You can get bungkus in most warung around Ubud too!

 

4km Running Track

For those who want to stay fit after all the yumm meals in Bali, why not try running? Ubud is blessed with pretty ricefields not so far from the main street!
Our volunteers recommend this one: turn right before Starbucks at the main road and start running, go straight and you get to the rice fields where a couple of boutique hotels are, eventually the path ends. It’s a total of 4 km run, which is not that much but it has some uphills and downhills which makes it more challenging! Here’s a snap of the view…

 

19 Jun

Settling In: The Peaceful Joy of Living in Ubud

From the bustling metropolis of Kuta, to the chill of the northern mountains, all the way down to the surf breaks of Uluwatu, Bali is unique in the fact that there are many types of experiences for tourists. Truly, the “island of gods” presents something for every traveler. We can guarantee that you’ll never hear a tourist say “I was bored in Bali.”

Especially for those traveling in Southeast Asia for the first time, visitors experience a sensory overload arriving in the south coast of Denpasar. Most head straight for the beach towns on the nearby south coast. You’re overwhelmed with the amount of things to do – the clubs of Kuta, the island tours, the Seminyak sunset strip. There’s a rush to move quickly as possible in your trip, because you realize there is too much to see in a short period of time.

But then, just an hour north – you arrive in Ubud. Immediately, you sense a change in the air. An immediate urgency to stop, and take it all in. Temple complexes seamlessly weave into the center of town, amongst endless markets where you can’t tell the inside from out . When you’re on the main strip, you may feel similar as you did in the south – a bit congested and often packed with group tours. But once you take a step outside of center, you’re immersed into neighborhoods full of art and vibrant character – a glimpse into a more authentic Bali.

Whether you start your morning with a sunrise over Campuhan Ridge Walk, or in a yoga class in chilled out Penestanan – there is nothing quite like the silence and tranquility of an “Ubudian” morning. You choose from the plethora of cafes overlooking rice terraces for breakfast, and it begins to feel like you’ve stepped into another world.

If you spend your afternoon in town, vibrant art and handmade crafts are inescapable. Balinese Hinduism places great importance on art and attention to detail – there is nowhere on the island where you see this more clearly than in Ubud.

If you spend your afternoon outside of town, friendly village locals will direct you to hidden waterfalls and mountain landscapes. Throughout your day, you’ll catch glimpses of Mount Agung peeking between the clouds, Bali’s highest and most sacred volcano.

The high-vibe frequency of living in Ubud can be shocking at first. Between the architecture of homes to the placement of offerings – ornate detail is brought into every aspect of life. As a volunteer however, living in Ubud more long term means that you get to experience a different kind of town. The vibrancy of the town begins to settle in, and what used to be overwhelming quickly becomes normal.

Familiar faces, restaurants, and rice terraces become regular aspects of your day. The kindness of the people however, never gets old. Through getting to know the people, between our local staff, their families, and your students, volunteers have the opportunity to experience the beauty of Ubud on a deeper level than monkey forest-bound tourists. You will quickly understand how the heart of this island and the Balinese people, have inspired the mission and vision of VP Bali.

12 Jun

Benefits of Co-teaching

At VP Bali, we aim to create a unique environment for our kids that they don’t get to experience in their normal public schools. Outside of our creative learning techniques, we create our own little melting pot between all of our volunteers from different countries. When volunteers from different cultures, speaking different first languages co-teach together, it allows our students to get a glimpse of cultures beyond the island they call home.

One of our major goals in the classroom is to show our students that education is not linear, that there are many different ways of learning – by the book and outside of the classroom. It is our hope that they gain a broadened view of education from our volunteers with different backgrounds. We want our kids to take this knowledge with them as they grow, so they are inspired to teach others to look past the simple benchmarks and tests in their public schools.

Co-teachers are typically paired between long term volunteers and short term volunteers. This makes it easier for our students to adjust to new faces, and for more kids to be given the attention they need based on their skill level.

The benefits of co-teaching also extend to our volunteers! We try our best to pair volunteers with co-teachers who are not from their home country or speak the same first language. This way, volunteers learn how to work with people from other cultures and solve problems together, all the while taking input and different creatives ideas to make their classrooms successful! Co-teachers will often get together outside of class at their volunteer homestays to prepare lesson plans – a quick and easy way to make new friends and get to know each other!

The fact co-teaching serves benefits to both our volunteers and our students is an example of how every member of our family is growing together. At VP Bali, all parties involved are empowered to inspire those around them long after working with us. We hope that our volunteers take what they learn from their co-teachers in Bali, and bring it home to make a difference around the world!

 

 

05 Jun

Better than Holiday: Interning in Bali

At VP Bali, every member of our family grows together. Our local staff, trainees, volunteers, and students all work towards their personal and professional goals as they contribute to our mission. We also give the opportunity for interns to join our team, for them to contribute their valuable skills while learning from our growing organization. The benefits that come from working and learning in a place as special as Bali, go far past a normal office internship.

Upon arrival, interns will immediately sense that their experience in Bali will be very different from past internships. The heat alone, causes a shift from “normal working conditions” as it quickly becomes a game to find the best workspaces in Ubud that are 1. Air-conditioned 2. Quiet 3. Have fast internet. Thankfully, Ubud is home to tons of beautiful bamboo-crafted cafes and workspaces to accommodate the “digital nomad” scene that has landed here. Whether you’re looking for a small, cool, room, or a wide-open table with a rice terrace view, Ubud has all the places to stimulate your creativity and productivity!

Interning in Bali creates a unique experience in many elements – one of the most obvious being the fact that you are working among an international community. Between our local staff, founder, fellow interns, and sometimes volunteers, interns get to work in an environment where you’ll learn how to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds. Gaining experience with cross-cultural sensitivity will help you more easily work with people from all over the world in the future!

Interning somewhere other than your home country means adjusting your typical work routines to a new and challenging environment. Even if its something as small as dressing appropriately, working in a new country forces you to break out of your comfort zone. Remember, you only grow when you are challenged, and are only challenged when you feel “uncomfortable!”

One of the most unique aspects of interning with us is learning to balance work in paradise. Some find quicker than others that living on a beautiful island doesn’t mean that day-to-day work routines don’t just go away during the week. But on weekends, interns have the opportunity to explore the island – get down to the beach, explore the east coast by motorbike, or hike volcanoes in the north! All of these incredible weekend experiences leave our interns refreshed with new creative ideas to come back with on Mondays. The balance of work and play in Bali creates an amazing quality of living, which leads to our brightest and most creative ideas that help VP Bali grow!

Feeling keen? Check out our internship availability here. We can’t wait to meet you!