24 May

A soft landing: VP Bali Volunteer Orientation

More than likely exhausted from jet lag, the butterflies you’ve had in your stomach for the last few weeks suddenly start fluttering faster as you make your way through immigration and grab your luggage. As you walk into the lobby, everything seems a bit less nerve wracking when the owner of your homestay accommodation greets you with a smile.

On the drive from the airport to Ubud, you experience an immediate sensory overload of everything that makes Bali, Bali. Huge statues of Balinese gods stand in the middle of chaotic roundabouts as families of four zoom past your taxi on a single motorbike – for many volunteers, it will take some time to orient yourself to driving on the left side of the road!

In our opinion, the combination of excitement and nervousness of a volunteer’s first days is one of the best parts of your experience abroad. It’s an amazing feeling to look back on this day when you eventually depart Bali, to realize how far you’ve come since arrival! We realize that being in a new environment can be a little intimidating, especially for those who haven’t traveled on our side of the world. This is why at VP Bali Volunteer Orientation, we have everything sorted for you to make your experience incredible from Day 1!

The days and weeks leading up to your trip, you may be tempted to research through guide books and guides about tips for the adventure ahead. Our Volunteer Orientation gives you an easy soft landing and introduction into your new home. This means that you don’t need to worry about the first couple days in Bali, we have it all sorted for you!

Saturday and Sunday morning before your placement allow your body time to recover and rest after your long journey. Thankfully for you, Ubud is famous for spas and massages around every corner.
On Sunday afternoon, your first day of Volunteer Orientation helps you to feel comfortable in your new environment! Our local staff will show you around the area and point out helpful spots like ATMs, laundry services, pharmacies, and some of our favorite places to eat. Day one introduces you to a few things that make Bali especially unique, and all the dos and don’ts of the friendly culture you’ll be living amongst!

Day Two of your orientation on Monday morning introduces you to the flow of your new classroom! Our local staff with walk you through our curriculum and explain a few of the games and activities our students like best. Then, you’ll be joined by your co-teachers to start planning your first day of class Monday afternoon!

Providing you with a soft landing, our volunteer orientation gives you just a taste of how special your new home is. Between getting to know the local people, experiencing the vibrant art and culture, and exploring a different coastline every weekend, you will slowly discover on your own just how truly unique Bali is to the rest of the world.

Getting excited? Us too.

We can’t wait to meet you!

22 May

Uniquely Ubud: Living in an International Melting Pot

In March 2017, Bali was named TripAdvisor’s #1 Destination in the World – its no secret that people from all over the world are flocking to “the island of gods” for their next vacation. The south coasts are packed with tourists from far and wide soaking up the Indonesian sun. But here in Ubud, an international melting pot has been brewing for decades, making it a unique place to call home for our VP Bali volunteers.

When you arrive in Ubud, you will immediately notice signs of an established and vibrant international community from one major element – the FOOD! Craving a quesadilla and marg? Look no further than Taco Casa and La Cantina. Missing your favorite French pastries? Be sure to get to Le Moulin early for their famous almond croissants. In the mood for a sushi night with your fellow volunteers? Just a ways from your homestay, head to Toro for any roll your heart desires. Let us not forget every volunteer’s weakness: PIZZA! Buona Sera, Umah Pizza, Pizza Bagus, and Mamma Mia – you’ll never run out of options for this comfort food.

Ubud is also known as an world destination for bright minds to come together and create fresh ideas! International conferences such as TEDxUbud hold frequent events with inspiring speakers from Indonesia and all over the world. Over the years, Ubud has become a place for people from all over the world to collaborate in paradise – you would never guess how many businesses are started here!

VP Bali is happy to contribute to the unique Ubud community, with volunteers coming from all over the world to add a little spice to both our classroom and our town! We believe a huge strength of our organization comes from the sharing of cultures and ideas from not only our international volunteers, but also our local staff.

We love to have our volunteers share their customs in the classroom, giving our kids the opportunity to understand the world beyond their island. In return, our kids love to share their customs with the volunteers! Our weekly cultural exchange gives our students an opportunity to role reverse, and proudly teach our volunteers their traditions such as Balinese dance, making offerings, and learning traditional music instruments. Our local staff is here to help when things get tough! 

That being said, so many international influences can make it difficult for local communities to hold onto their traditions, especially living amongst a rapidly growing tourist society. Our close community ties combined with our power team of local staff and trainees mean that we never lose sight of what makes Bali unique and beautiful in the first place – its people.

With everything we do at VP Bali, between all of the cultures blending together to foster new ideas, we always uphold the utmost respect for local culture, traditions, and importance of Family.

19 May

The Best Night of the Week

Over the last four years, VP Bali has grown in numbers, expanded our mission, and focused in on a clear vision for both our volunteers and the Balinese people we aim to empower. Something that has never changed however, is how close our volunteers become with each other in such a short period of time. This may have something to do with one of our favorite long-standing traditions – Thursday night dinners!

At the end of every week and volunteer farewell ceremony, the volunteers whose time is ending with us pick a restaurant for a VP Bali farewell dinner. Volunteers and staff together get to see each other out of their school attire and celebrate the friendships they have made during their volunteer placement.

With no class on Fridays, our volunteers often leave early to take advantage of their three-day weekends to explore as much of beautiful Bali as possible! This leaves Thursday nights in Ubud to bring together everyone as a unit and spend time with each other outside of class. Especially for those who teach in our two different schools or live in our two different homestays, Thursday dinners are a way for our volunteers to share their favorite stories from the classroom over the last week!
When our volunteers come to Bali, they not only get the benefit of learning about the island’s culture, but also are exposed to different cultures from all over the world! It’s not rare to hear our volunteers at dinner teaching each other phrases in their home languages, or even helping each other dance to their favorite music from their country!
From your first Monday morning volunteer meeting, you are placed in an international community of friends from near and far. You will leave Indonesia with not only a community in Bali to go back to, but a new group of friends stretched all over the world!
Safe to say Thursdays are our favorite night of the week. We love to bringing all of our staff and volunteers together to have a little extra fun, and to celebrate our departing volunteers together as a family!
12 May

Taking the Classroom to the Pool

Last month, the VP Bali Family had a very important lesson outside of our English classes! This time, our founder, Kimberley, got to play coach when a few young members of our trainees needed a pointers to help pass an upcoming swimming test at their local school. While passing this test is mandatory for all students at the school, there are no classes in or out of the pool to help students learn about swimming. After our last class of the week, the team got to work, with Kimberley leading the pack in the pool through different exercises like paddling and learning to relax and float.

The fact that our trainees needed swimming lessons just for the sake of passing of an test represented something much bigger in our eyes: the idea that education was an end goal, instead of a journey. It was an example of the Indonesia’s focus on checking benchmarks, rather than personal development through learning lifelong skills.

When there’s a difference between traditional methods and the creative learning techniques we use at VP Bali, we try to provide fun opportunities for our students and staff to learn what they don’t in their formal school. Not only opportunities for better education, but also for safer working environments, fair salaries, and community development.

Our goal is to help our students grow into a changing society without losing the traditions and values that make their culture so unique and beautiful.
Our vision of education as a journey, not an end goal, is seen every day through the fun activities we use during our after school English classes. While we follow an ESL curriculum, we constantly aim for fun and innovative ways for our students to stay attentive, focused, and most of all have fun. We want our English classes to be something they look forward to every day after their normal school hours.
After four years of growth, VP Bali’s mission is no longer to just improve English skills in Bali’s youth. We want our students and local staff to take home what they gain from the classroom, to bring these valuable skills and life lessons into their everyday lives. Even as a small organization, days like this when our students and local staff get to learn outside of the classroom, not just for the sake of passing a test, is what makes our community of learning so special.