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Internationalization 2014 - Bintan

On the 3rd of March, a group of 49 students and 4 teachers left Singapore to Bintan on a ferry for their Internationalisation trip.  

Over a span of 3 days, we visited two schools in Bintan- the Muhammadiyah Orphanage and Pondok Pesantren. Each group carried out their own activities such as folding origami, playing games, colouring, teaching simple English phrases, etc. We met several difficulties along the way, such as the language barrier and a shortage of translators however, we ‘challenged the process’, and modified our lesson plans to better engage their students.

It was easy for us to bond seeing that they were so welcoming and cheerful, finding joy in the simplest of things. They accommodated us well, even letting us use their prayer hall to carry out our activities.

What we witnessed while interacting with the children, taught us many things. The Orphanage, having no proper incinerator or method of properly disposing their rubbish, openly burned their waste, leaving piles of smoking ash behind. The children played in these fields, some of them barefoot and constantly jumping across the ground strewn with broken pieces of glass and metal. Their playground was nothing but simple adaptations of the playgrounds we play in, and yet we saw their faces light up whenever they played.

The students of Pondok shared simple meals of rice, sambal and egg. We, however, each had our own packs of rice with chicken, kangkong and egg. Seeing how the children and students in Bintan were so easily pleased and happy with what they had was a wake-up call for all of us. We live in a country with good facilities and good educational opportunities, and yet as Singaporeans we still find reasons to complain about anything. This was when we found the true meaning of service learning- that we had gone to Bintan to not just make a difference in their lives, but at the same time, we were learning too- we were learning all sorts of life lessons from them.

As expected, on our last day, we all left with heavy hearts and reluctance, even exchanging contact details with the students and children in hopes of continuing our exchange when we went back to Singapore. The students of Pondok sang to us songs in English while playing on their guitars after we performed the Cup Song for them, along with other songs and even did our unique Crescent Mass Dance. The next day was spent learning more about Bintan’s cultures.

To conclude, I can safely say that all of us learned a great deal from this service learning trip. We learned to not take things for granted and to not be so materialistic- but the most important thing we learned was that we can make a difference, and it did not matter how big or small the difference is as long as we have good intentions in mind.

Reported by: Kacine Wee 2G1