Since we started our afternoon classes at Volunteer Programs Bali in 2013, we have had so many students joining our program! And actually the number of kids is growing every month. We often get the question how the kids find us and how they started joining our program. We will explain a bit about that and tell you more about the growth and development of our program.
First of all, it is important to understand the structure of our program and the way it has been set up. Our English classes find place in the afternoon, and are an addition to the regular school system. All our students are going to regular school in morning, and from Monday to Thursday they come to us in the afternoon. Our classes are not mandatory and are being offered as extra afternoon classes and free for children to join.
We welcome children from all ages, starting as young as kindergarten/elementary school until senior high school students. We run two classes a day, the first class is mainly for our younger children and second class for the older students.
We started the program very small, and a lot of local promotion was needed to attract kids to join the program. Local promotion is mostly done through the village community. For VP Bali it is very important to have a close relationship with the local community of the village where we are working. This means we have a strong bond with neighbors, local village heads and local schools. As Bali is very community based, word spreads fast and soon after we started we had a few classes full of excited and motivated kids to learn English with us.
Over the years we have been working in several villages. Our vision is to help as many kids as possible and therefore we often move our schools around different villages. In this way our range of network and community gets bigger and we get to reach more communities and children. Most of the time after we move the children from the previous location move with us and keep on joining the program.
A lot of kids come through word of mouth promotion. They hear about our program in the village through friends or at school and they come to the program with other kids as well. Mostly they come join in groups of friends, but sometimes kids come alone as well, just because they heard about the program and they are interested to find out more.
Thanks to our transportation program where we provide transport for those living far away, we have a very large network at the moment with children coming from many different villages in the Gianyar area. Some of them live an hour away and come to the program every day!
Sometimes we get requests from a school or new village for a group or class of kids to join and we have a whole batch of sometimes up to 20 new students at once.
We like to work on a sustainable base with our local partners such as school and village heads, as they also do lots of promotion for our program and they always keep supporting us.
When a new student joins our program, it is very important for us that they are feeling comfortable and secure. One of the ways we do this is by giving them personal attention and take the time to get to know them. We also think it is important to get to know their level of English to make sure they are placed in a class where their level of English matches with the others. This ensures development and self-confidence for our students and makes them more motivated to keep coming to the classes.
Sometimes we do tests to check their English level or we give them a few individual classes before placing them with the other kids. It usually takes only a few days for kids to feel at home thanks to the hospitality of our volunteers, staff and other students.
We are very proud and happy with our development as it proves how much the kids love to join the program. Sometimes we even have to pause and reorganize before accepting new children as all classes are full. But we always find a solution to make it work as our main goal is to help as many kids as possible to reach their fullest potential!
We are thankful for our VP Bali family to keep on growing and we hope we can reach even more areas in Bali in the future.