A New Hope - Aceh After The Tsunami
With the support of a C.A.R.E. travel grant, a volunteer teacher from Canada arrived at the English language center at the Universitas Syiah Kuala in Banda Aceh, Indonesia. He undertook his journey to Aceh with a simple idea in mind, “seek first to understand and than to be understood.” He found these were resilient people who love, hurt, work, play, laugh and have an amazing attitude given they have survived, in some cases, a lifetime of conflict and one of the most horrific natural disasters of recent times.
Through the Universitas Syiah Kuala the volunteer was able to provide an environment for advanced English practice for students interested in learning. A native English speaker can be a rarity for Indonesian students and he provided them with conversational tools including English directions, topics and some common slang thus giving many students a base to practice English.
One of the chief outcomes from the volunteers internship and time in Aceh was a greater feeling of connection to the place and people, and he resolved to return to Aceh when possible to not only continue his work but also to renew and strengthen the friendships and connections that he made along the way.
The volunteer also spent time interacting with the children from local relief camps. For the local children, a foreign playmate was initially a cause for curiosity and surprise; however they were able to mix fun with education through some basic language learning games and became fast friends although language still separated them.