Time Capsule Letter
Wow! It has been so long since Bali… Can you believe it? Remember when we all met for the first time? Many of you had some flights together along the way, but really, we all truly found each other at Madra Homestay. When you all arrived, everyone was given their first taste of Bali, literally. Those coconuts were so delicious! And from there, the rest is history!
We started off our service projects with the Health Workshops at the primary school in Ubud. At first, many of you were nervous, but I think that you quickly found your footing and completed the service with confidence. The kids also seemed hesitant at first, but by the end, both groups were hugging and smiling, and I even saw a few tears of joy! Isn’t it amazing the bonds that can be created despite a language barrier?
Next, we moved onto Singaraja. Your assignment: banjar home visits. The first day, you were all put into groups and paired with local STIKES students. Those icebreakers were nuts! So many of you were weary of opening up, but eventually everyone let loose and we were all able to smile and laugh with each other.
Then the home visits were no easy task. It was HOT outside, and many of you had very little medical experience. But the lack of experience was quickly made up for with a string desire to learn and do good.
You powered through each day, making sure the people felt safe all while exploring a brand new side of this different culture. While there, we also watched Racing Extinction. We learned about the perils of our human actions and the impacts we are having on Mother Earth.
You were all inspired by the movie to the point where many of your OMGs were environmentally based. Many of you pledged to use less plastic or help plants trees. Regardless, we all learned about the importance of living a lower impact life!
Then it came time for East Bali Immersion, or EBI. You had all heard about it before, but I don’t think you realized how beautiful it truly was until arriving and getting your first good look at Mount Agung.
The kids at Anakardia preschool were so smart and were so happy to learn some life skills from you all. We also learned about the benefits of East Bali Cashews Factory, the social enterprise that brought us there in the first place.
On the last morning at EBI, everyone was rewarded with an incredible orange sunrise over the sparkling ocean, which was only made more awe inspiring by the nearby volcano. After EBI we ventured to Amed where many of you tried SCUBA diving for the first time. Again, it was so cool to see you test your fears and bravely venture into an alien world!
Finally, back in Ubud, we saw Tanah Lot – the amazing temple on the ocean – and went surfing! Surfing was yet another experience that brought you all out of your comfort zones and some of you even caught some gnarly waves!
Our three weeks in Bali were a wild ride! As mentors, we hope that you will take your experiences and let their lessons guide you through life, wherever you go. Remember that no matter the action, big or small, you can still make an impact in this world. Stay positive! Be mindful! Be happy and healthy!
Miss you all!!!
Written by Ian, Fira, Kris, Monika and Sasti
Tuesday July 16, 2019
Greetings from Bali!
After many, many hours of travel we have finally arrived at our home base in Ubud. We were each greeted with our own coconut and bamboo straw, followed by a delicious dinner. Now we are all taking some time to relax and make new friends before we hit the ground running tomorrow!
Ian – mentor
Wednesday July 17, 2019
Today we started with an authentic banana pancake breakfast. Then we spent a couple hours at orientation where we learned leadership skills and did some team building games. After lunch, we had a surprise scavenger hunt where we worked through language barriers and immersed ourselves in Balinese culture.
We were invited into people’s homes and discovered how friendly and willing they are to answer our questions. We even got to see a farmer with his rice patties! It was so interesting to see the daily life in this community! At the end of the night, we headed to our bunks to relax and get a good night’s sleep for our busy day tomorrow!
-Talia and Grace
Thursday July 18, 2019
Today we got a chance to immerse ourselves in Balinese culture by participating in Banjar workshops. We got a small sample of traditional dance, wood carving, offering making, even learned how to play Gamelan (traditional instruments). After a delicious lunch in Warung Hana, we headed back to home base to relax and attend a session about Public Health.
In the evening, we had the pleasure of visiting Peliatan Palace and even had a long chat with Prince Kris. We finished our eventful day watching a Kecak dance performance!
Looking forward to tomorrow!
Friday July 19, 2019
We started the day with a breathtaking herbal walk, which brought a lot of insight to many of us by learning traditional remedies and more natural methods for healing, while testing and tasting the remedies on our adventure. We were also given the opportunity to purchase many of these items and much more.
Later, we moved onto Tirta Empul, the sacred water temple, exposing the students to the beautiful culture all around, including the thirty purifying fountains and joining in the traditional Balinese prayer. The students then had the chance to shop at the available shops and purchase what they would like while practicing their negotiating skills in the Bahasa Indonesian language.
After a long day of experiencing the culture, we traveled to Kintamanibro have lunch with a fantastic view of Mount Batur. We were treated to a buffet style restaurant with many ethnic options and a few stops for photo shoots along the way!
Towards the end of the day, we got a tour of the Natural Birth Clinic, Bumi Sehat International where we had the chance to learn and explore all the different ways to help endure and give birth while managing the symptoms along the way. After having chances to watch videos of water births and ask questions we all left more knowledgeable with more insight on the subject at hand. It was a truly eye-opening experience, leaving many of us with watery eyes.
At the end of the day we all divided into groups and eagerly prepared lessons for our first day of service tomorrow!
– by Sarah M. and Andrew
Saturday July 20, 2019
After eating an interesting breakfast of black rice pudding and coconut milk, we headed to laughing yoga. While there, we learned about the different levels of laughter. There are five levels (stomach, chest, throat, head and whole) with each level having different types of sounds ranging from HOHO to HEHE. Each level leads to less stress and a happy and healthy life.
After eating lunch back at Madra Homestay, we headed to our first day of service. This included educating young kids about personal hygiene, nutrition, and physical activity. Each lesson was planned and led by three different groups. After breaking through the language barrier and finishing our lessons, we ended the day planning their next lesson for tomorrow. It wasn’t easy but we completed our first day of service with a smile!
– by Sydney and Lili
Sunday July 21, 2019
We started off the day with a short hike through a plantation where we later had the opportunity to taste natural cocoa beans and cinnamon picked right off the plants! After that, we stopped for a coffee and tea tasting where we sampled ten different flavors, took beautiful pictures, and bought some souvenirs. We went straight to a river to go white water rafting and enjoyed the incredible view of the mossy rocks and the surrounding mountains as we drifted through the twists and turns of the stream.
Many of us took amazing pictures of the waterfall we stopped at along the way. Karishma, Sydney, Andrew, and Lili all thought that they were going cliff jumping and were surprised when their boat (the most loud and hype boat by far) went down a waterfall instead, though Andrew seemed a little sea sick. On the other hand, Talia, Eva, Jaesa, and Grace’s boat (the best boat of them all) faced their fears head on and had a blast as they barely avoided falling in the cold water and laughed along with Eva’s screams of excitement, while proving slow and steady truly does win the race. Nikola, Sarah M, Sarah L, and Kaitlyn had lots of laughs as their tour guide made lots of jokes. The staff also requested a shoutout 😉 Overall, both those new to the activity and those who were white water rafting veterans all thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
After a short break to rest following such an exciting morning, we headed to the school for our second day of service. We all agreed that after yesterday’s day of experience, we were better prepared and more successful in engaging our students, resulting in a better day for all. Most notably, Nicole’s passion shone through as her group’s activities exemplified true values of leadership. At the end of the day, we spent some time prepping for tomorrow’s health workshops and reflecting on today’s thrilling experiences.
Brought to you by the most responsible, hard working, thoughtful, and responsible leaders of the day, Talia and Karishma.
P.S. Shoutout to Jaesa and Andrew for carrying the water jugs and med kit so we could carry the team (and because we forgot).
Monday July 22, 2019
We started the Selamat Pagi (good morning) with mouth watering banana pancakes and our daily side of fruit, leaving everyone fully satisfied. Continuing on, we played a friendly game of Indian Chief, which shared good laughs between everyone. We ventured on to an inspirational journey to Bhakti Senang Hati which is a non-profit organization that creates programs to develop self-confidence, physical and economic independence, and increase awareness in the general community of people with disabilities. After the tour of their facility, students had the privilege of playing music with the amazing members of the community. We then had a brief break that allowed us to support their cause by buying homemade jewelry.
We finished our last day volunteering at the children’s school where we had been working for the past 3 days. We had grown deeper connections with the students, even with the large language barrier between us. Our last day with them was heart wrenching but also filled our hearts with love to see them happy and saying goodbye.
We ended our long day with an intense conversation about the universe and evening activities. For us here in Bali, we began packing for a new journey to a new place. We aren’t saying goodbye to Homestay Madre, but see you soon.
~Katelyn and Nikolka
Tuesday July 23, 2019
Today we moved from our beloved home in Ubud, Madra Homestay, to our second Bali home in Singaraja. Along the way we saw amazing mountain views and even some monkeys! We also stopped at Ulun Danu Beratan Temple, which had amazing views of the lake and beautiful architecture, then headed to lunch at Mentari. We arrived in Singaraja around 3 and quickly settled into our new rooms with our new roommates. We then went for a short walk around our village, which borders the ocean, before coming back to homebase to work on making penjor – decorative poles for the upcoming festival. We are looking forward to the days to come as this homebase is a short ride from the ocean!
– Jaesa and Sarah L.
Wednesday July 24, 2019
Today we started out nice and early at 7 am. We went to visit a temple called Jagatnatha. We prayed to celebrate Galungan, a festival holiday which represent the good people winning over the bad in Balinese culture. After praying, we went to a children’s home where we only saw a few kids because most were at home for the holiday. The children gave us a tour of their home, showing us the facilities that are provided by Narayan Seva. We were able to participate in yoga which was led by one of the older girls at the home, and were then able to watch a performance by all the kids who stayed there for the holiday. We had an early all vegetarian lunch provided by the home.
For the second half of our day we headed to the BEACH!! We spent a good few hours in the water (after, of course, passing a swim test), and also got to do some shopping along the boardwalk. We wrapped up our evening with a sunset dinner on the beach, while each of us munched on our personal pizzas.
To end our night, we settled in at homebase with a GLA activity, which pushed us all to look within ourselves and step outside of our comfort zone.
– Grace and Eva
Thursday July 25, 2019
Starting the day off with a simple self-served breakfast, we progressed with an adventurous hike to the beautiful waterfall that ran nearby. Upon arrival we were full of excitement to go through the nook of the waterfall, while the sunshine effortlessly peaked through the trees. We continued our day with a delicious lunch and then played a quick game of scategories to get our minds working.
Despite all the fun we had throughout the day, we had the aching feeling something was off – the eye opening realization of how much trash is actually on the streets of Singaraja and elsewhere here in Bali. So we hit the road and picked up the surrounding the community’s trash that laid by sides of the roads. We ended the day with bonding exercises and other exciting group activities in order to prepare for our upcoming home visits and days of service.
– Sarah M. and Nikolka
Saturday July 27, 2019
Today was our second day of service in Singaraja. The last two days have been incredibly eye opening. Walking through the streets of the banjar, we were able to see what life is like here in Bali. We were divided into service groups and paired with medical students from the STIKES program. Going from house to house we checked various vitals of the people, marking it so that the local government can later use the information. It was incredibly hot but we powered through, always remembering to drink water and constantly refill our bottles.
Despite the language barrier, we are now truly immersed in much of the culture. After a full day of service today, we were happy to return to home base for another delicious dinner. To finish off the night, we watched Racing Extinction. The movie brought an incredibly real and uneasy truth to our eyes, outlining the ways in which humans are contributing to global climate change and the increasing number of endangered species.
– Ian (Mentor)
Sunday July 28, 2019
We started our day with some eggs and toast. After that we headed to Banjar Sema for a long day of service. The GLA students divided into their four groups, each with two Balinese medical students. The groups walked around the Banjar asking questions, taking people’s blood pressure and blood glucose level, weight, height, and taking in a new culture.
After a long day of service we headed back to home base to prepare for a sunset boat ride and an evening swim over a coral reef. The swim was amazing! The water was warm and the orange sun reflected beautifully off the surface, illuminating the reef below. We then headed back to the beach to have a sunset dinner and afterwards burned our fears in the fire, all whilst listening to acoustic music provided by locals. The night ended in singing happy birthday to GLA student, Andrew, over donuts. Happy birthday Andrew!
Monday July 29, 2019
Today was our final day of service in Singaraja. It was after four days of doing home visits across two different banjars, we all felt much more comfortable with the different medical tests we had been doing. It might seem small on the surface, but we really made a difference there, doing some tests that the people there don’t have constant access to like we might have in America. The STIKES students we worked with were also great and we were definitely sad to say goodbye. The knowledge we gained in Singaraja will be brought with us wherever we go in the future and will absolutely come in handy!
For the next two nights we will be at East Bali Immersion. We can’t tell you too much about it yet, but we hear it’s an incredible place! We will also be without service, so please forgive us if the blog isn’t updated as often as usual. See you again when we get to Amed!
Wednesday July 31, 2019
Sorry for the break in the blog! For the last two days we’ve been at EBI (East Bali Immersion). We started the our first full day there by all piling into the back of a little yellow truck that drove us down the hill to the nearby cashew factory, East Bali Cashews. The company is a social enterprise that works on providing higher wages for the workers while allowing them to stay closer to their families. It also provides preschooling for the younger children of the factory workers.
At the preschool taught the students three different tasks: combing hair, folding clothes, and tying shoes. It was a little hectic, though it’s bound to be when us teens and the children are equally excited. Putting the chaos aside, it was really fun and, by the end, the kids both learned and remembered the everything we had taught them! We played the chicken dance, macerana, and ring around the rosy which were also all very entertaining. One thing we noticed were how prepared the students were. They already knew a lot of what we were teaching and it was really cool to see what they already knew.
Next we went onto the cashew factory tour. We learned where cashews come from, how they are sorted and processed, and even how they have to be dried because otherwise they would be toxic. We then put on specific clean attire required to enter certain parts of the factory – gloves, hats, coats, and special shoes. We went into the space where they took the outside skin off of the cashew and best of all…we got to do it OURSELVES! I have to say that was pretty cool! We also travelled to the kitchen where we saw where they cooked all the ingredients for the granola. After the tour we had a short break and headed for a walk back to our home base in EBI.
Once we arrived back at base, we had designated sports time. We were able to play soccer, ping pong, volleyball, or even professional hammocking and swinging. After another short break, we all headed back up for dinner and activities. Our night came to a close roasting corn and bread over the bonfire.
Today many of us woke up early, around 4 am, to hike to watch the sunrise. The hike was incredible and at the top we stopped to watch the sunrise and eat snacks. Back at the camp, the people who stayed behind woke up early to watch it from the home base as well. We arrived back to home base at about 8 am and breakfast was served. After breakfast we had a fun activity; cooking! We assisted the EBI staff with making our own lunch. We made corn fritters and salsa, fish sate, and vegetables.
While waiting for lunch we had a ping pong tournament and then we ate our creations. We’re not quite master chefs just yet, but we’re getting there! After that we had a mini quiz about East Bali Cashews from the day prior and Ian’s group WON! Which means everyone got to try all the cashew products they had on hand…. mmmmm yummy. After the quiz, we wrapped up at EBI, saying goodbye to the incredible staff, and head to Amed.
We arrived at our resort in Amed and had a few moments to settle down. Tomorrow we are doing Discover SCUBA so we had to try on sizes for scuba wetsuits and gear and then headed to the infinity pool. After dinner the group that won the scavenger hunt from day two back in Ubud got free massages, but almost everyone else payed for one anyway – not an opportunity to be missed.
It is now night time and we have arrived safely in Amed. Once the massages are done we have some free time and can then head to bed to get good rest before scuba diving tomorrow. Most of us are excited or nervous or both, but we know that it will be a great experience!
– by Grace
Thursday August 1, 2019
Today we had a chance to explore an underwater world. Not all of us were comfortable with scuba diving, but we were found to have given it a try! Some animals we saw included lion fish, trigger fish, shrimp and sting rays! It was so cool to be guests in an alien world!
– Ian (Mentor)
Today was bittersweet as we left the ocean behind in Amed and headed back to Madra Homestay. Once arriving back in Ubud, we donned our sarongs and sashes and headed to a natural healer. We learned about the strong presence of karma and black magic in the Hindu religion as the healer read our auras. We were each even able to ask him a question or two regarding our futures. Some of us chose to ask about marriage or the prospect of children, while others concentrated more on their future careers and places of residence. Some got answers they were hoping for and some answer were a little more vague. Though, it is incredibly important that we remind ourselves not to take these answers too seriously, as much of the results are dependent on how we shape our own futures.
– Ian (Mentor)
Saturday August 3, 2019
We started the day at Madra and headed right to a temple for some morning ceremonies to celebrate Kuningan Day. Some of the GLA students partook in prayer and after several prayer sessions we helped clean up the offerings in the temple after the ceremony. We then headed to the priest’s house and discussed the many different cultural aspects of Bali.
After lunch, we proceeded to watch a documentary about the negative effects of tourism in remote areas around the world. Finally, we ventured to Tanah Lot, a temple known for its beautiful sunset as it is set right on the ocean shore, where we saw the sunset and ended the day with some souvenir shopping – making sure that we have plenty of gifts for friends and family back home.
Sunday August 4, 2019
The last full day of our program started off early, as we had to leave at 5:30AM to go surfing. The tides had to be perfect for us to surf. The waves weren’t too big or too small. They were juuust right! It took us lots of practice, but many of us manage to stand up more than a few times and catch some gnarly waves. In the evening, we summed up our experience on the program by coming up with our OMG (One Meaningful Goal) – something that we hope to achieve within the next twelve months. During the closing ceremony, we shared our OMG and received some small tokens of appreciation and gifts to remember Bali by. Tomorrow will be a sad day as we say farewell to all of our newfound friends.