As an 18-year-old high school graduate, I had eight months to shape my life however I wanted before university. I decided to embark on an adventure of a lifetime, combining a beach holiday in Phuket, Thailand with my cousins, a visit to my grandmother in the Philippines, and two internships to gain valuable experience. But the highlight of my journey was my participation in a volunteer service program in Bali.
Rewarding volunteer work
I arrived in Bali thinking it would be a simple construction program for two weeks, but what I experienced was so much more than that. It was a test of courage, strength, and endurance, and it ended up being the most important weeks of my life before college.
The work was more “professional” and physically demanding, as the foreman counted on us to do laborious tasks assigned every morning. For one assignment, I helped structure support beams, pouring cement in two placeholders. I’m so proud to have contributed to building a kindergarten school, in which young Balinese will one day be able to study.
This important work is part of the overall plan to build 4 classrooms. These new spaces will enable over 100 students to receive an education once completed. I formed strong bonds with friendly locals and people from all over the world, and I am still in contact with them to this day.
The construction and renovation program was super inclusive and you could choose the length of your volunteer work, and also what type of work you wanted to do. The local team in Bali looked after all the volunteers very well.
How I grew as a person
Volunteering thrust me into a totally new environment. I had never traveled on my own so that was a first. I didn’t know anyone at all on this trip so I had to get out of my comfort zone to connect and make friends. I also had to learn to manage my cash. All are good lessons and prep for going to university.
You’re bound to make lifelong friends!
I worked with very friendly locals and people from all over the world and to this day I still am in contact with them.
When you come together in an environment like this you’re bound to make lifelong friends - for me that was Hiro and Bode, two Americans who flew in from California. I spent most of my free time with them, which was both enjoyable and meaningful.
We’re so excited to meet again to do more volunteer work in the future. When we do, we’ll look back at our Bali volunteer days and our pictures which capture our enthusiasm and kindred spirit.
Bode, who volunteered to teach English for 12 weeks, shares:
“I came to Bali in hopes of finding a new perspective on life and discovering more about myself. I know that when I leave, I’ll be a happier person because of the positive influence of the community. I often spend my alone time exploring and journaling.
The people here are incredibly down-to-earth, loving and always looking out for one another. It’s a stark contrast to my life back in California where many people are focused on money and popularity. This whole experience can be summed up as a “Life of vital emotions.”
Free time in Bali looks like…
Bali wasn’t entirely about work. Every Thursday there would be a big get-together usually because people would be leaving on the weekend either out of the country at the end of their volunteer period, or to an island to spend some quality time with new friends. I was fortunate to celebrate my 19th birthday with these genuine and generous people.
We explored the beauty of Bali like the waterfalls, rice paddies, and other natural wonders on our off time during the weekdays. We usually went out somewhere farther during the weekends (like the Gili islands) and spent most of the time with other volunteers.
The people on the program and those supporting us were so friendly, compassionate and fun to be with. The locals were always smiling and the volunteers were all eager to meet new people and make new connections. It was truly a life-changing experience.
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You can see the full blog by Daniel here.