Nienke Bach Kolling
The minor program Sustainable Development in Developing Countries offers the opportunity to go abroad and work in a development project or organization in a developing country. As you are free to choose the subject and destination of your field study, I searched for a project which had to do with education as I wanted to include my study (Educational Design) in it. I ended up in Bali (Indonesia) where I worked from July till September 2013 at foundation Sjaki-Tari-Us. Sjaki-Tari-Us is a foundation for mentally disabled children and offers a combination of playing and learning to children who did not (yet) get accepted at a special education school. The mental disabilities of the children are often not officially diagnosed, but include at least Down syndrome, autism and ADHD.
During my field study my task was to assist the teachers during the lessons. The last three weeks of my stay I worked individually with one of the children whose behavior was very aggressive towards the other children. From day one you could see a change in his behavior and after a week also improvements in his performance due to the individual and positive attention he got. Seeing this was absolutely wonderful.
As there is no special education training for the teachers available in Bali, the teachers are depending on the knowledge of visiting volunteers. To contribute to this process, I did a research on how they can improve their reading lessons. I presented my results in a workshop to the teachers and saw them experiencing positive results when they tried some of the practical exercises in their lesson.
I had an amazing time, thanks to the interesting work, lovely children and staff at Sjaki-Tari-Us, the Balinese people and their beautiful country. An experience I will never forget and absolutely worth trying!