My Volunteer Experience

By Damian Glania

My first impression of Bendum: it is a beautiful and quiet place.
The people around are very nice. I like it from the moment I came here. It is a small village deep in the mountains and there is so much green everywhere that you can hardly see the houses around.

I’m staying in a small hut called Atiyu balay (small house) located close to the church and the house of the tribal chieftain Datu Nestor. From my desk, I can see through the green trees the distant cloud-covered mountains. It is a nice place to work. Our hut has two rooms – the first one being occupied by Ed, the production manager here in Bendum, who also helps me in understanding the place. There are also many small creatures living with us – some of them just visiting.

After few days, I learned the daily routine here including the breakfast at 6:30am, lunch at 12 and dinner at 6:30 pm. We eat together in Adagi balay (the big house). The food is quite simple, consisting mainly of rice or sweet potatoes and vegetables. There are occasionally small amounts of eggs, fish or meat (chicken or pork). The nice touch about the meal here is: everyone gets the same food, from the smallest child in the first grade to the oldest teacher or manager.

volunteer_experience2I am tasked to be the IT Support for the program of JC: HEM in Bendum, teach in a computer class for the youth, train a local staff who will take over my place and develop the Computer Course Curriculum. My first week was spend mostly preparing the computer lab, supervising the carpentry works in the physical set-up of the lab and setting up the Multipoint Server with 15 work stations.

I started the computer class on the second week where I have 3 classes: the Hulas youth who are also taking English course, Grade 6 students of APC and, recently, APC teachers. The computer lab is also open to all the elementary school kids. This group has been created by myself in a kind of experiment just by inviting them into the lab. I saw them watching from outside what the other students inside are doing. Most of the time, they use the Wikipedia for research, Paint for their pleasure and recently, a Math game (Tux Math) to practice calculations.

All my students are very nice and friendly. For me, most of the time, it is a pleasure to work with them. I guess, on the other hand, it is not easy to work with me. Some of the youths expressed their problems understanding what I’m trying to teach them. This may be due to the differences in our English skills. They are still improving their English skills and me, being not a native English speaker, have different pronunciation. But these are the hurdles that, together, we will have to overcome in order to achieve our goals. Most of the time, during my lectures, there is another teacher around, who translates the most important parts. I am happy to say that the second big assignment in the computer class, a powerpoint presentation, was done very well by the Hulas youth.

My own day starts shortly before 6am and ends after 9pm. Other than my lab task, I occasionally take time to update my blog which I’m supposed to write as Jesuit Volunteer. I am also trying to find time to do my usual “recreational walking around” after work.

Photo caption: Damian Glania is a software engineer from Munich, Germany and a Jesuit Volunteer. He first joined the Jesuit Volunteer Program last 2009 and was assigned as a teacher in a small IT college in central India for 6 months.

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