MDF Partnership with NGO Gugah Nurani Indonesia Volunteer Program: A Sharing Session with Dwi Damayanti and Roly Cristi Tambunan

In our youth, it is said to be obligatory to enrich ourselves with experiences. There are many ways to enrich our experiences, e.g. by doing part-time work, become a freelance, or perhaps to join in a volunteering program. Volunteering itself means to work for an organization without being paid. Despite of not having what we known as salary, we do earn ourselves a value, a value that not only could support our job application, but also to make a change. Here, we have two of our volunteers to share their experiences of participating in Medan Debaters Forum (MDF) volunteering program with NGO Gugah Nurani Indonesia.


So here is a message from Dwi Damayanti:


I was given the chance to do a volunteer work together with two of my seniors in Belawan for a 3-months-duration program starting from the middle of March until June. This opportunity was provided by a local NGO Medan Debaters Forum (MDF), as the partner of NGO Good Neighbors International or also known as Gugah Nurani Indonesia (GNI) in GNI Child Right Center (CRC) program.

The three of us were taking turns to GNI’s base in Belawan. We split the work by assigning each of us teaching once every three weeks. The program duration itself is relatively short, which only consume 14 weeks of teaching, which makes each of us only have to complete 3 to 4 meetings. We were teaching English for the high school students.

During my time teaching English there, I realized that English is not being seen as something fun to learn. While in my previous experience, I saw how people were trying so hard just to teach themselves English. It gives me a shock when I stood up teaching for hours only for one student in the classroom, sometimes, there were no students at all. This phenomenon was not only happened to me, but also my seniors.

For every meeting, the class always started with reviewing the previous week materials, to ensure that they still remember and understand what they have been taught. Then, we taught them new lessons from the curriculum that we agreed on, then finally it ended with assigning them homework.

When the day ended, we later informed ourselves about the condition happened in that day. So that, the next teacher would not be surprised with the ‘condition’.

So here’s the condition.

First of all, the children that we taught today might not be the one that we taught the following week. Therefore we need to prepare for previous lessons again because we there is a huge chance that we will not only reviewing it, but reteaching them again.

Second of all, sometimes there is only a person that come to your class, or worse, there is none. We have committed our time to be there and even waited for the whole day just for them to show up. What is even worse is that we also had a class assistant, that have been willing to visit one and every students in their home just to bring them to class, yet it did not work. It was like trading our time for nothing.

Third of all, the children seem to be enjoying the voice of their peers than ours. Though it is a common phenomenon done by kids, including me sometimes, the problem actually lies when the students do not try to make it more subtle or less disturbing about their behavior. In one of my class, a student shouted at her friend who was not even in the classroom. Well, it is an open-space classroom, where they can easily look at their friends from inside the class. Though I am really glad it only happened once.

The thing about this volunteer work is that we were facing many unexpected things that are actually expected, deep within our heart. Just like how I have expectation that English is not their favorite subject, yet I am still surprised that literally no one actually come.

For closing remark, I would say that the most important seed we need to plan inside the children’s mind is about how important it is to appreciate knowledge. For so long we have been imposing our children with the mindset that you need to be smart, in order to be successful in life. We are getting use to the standard of the one who score highest is the smartest. We often ignore the joy of learning. Perhaps it is due to us being demanded to value result more than process. That is why when there is some particular subjects that are difficult to be consumed by the students, they tend to give up and simply cheating rather than learning harder because what matters the most is the score on their paper.

Another lesosn is that everyone can teach easily, but to educate them is not a simple matter. Teaching is a matter of transferring knowledge. Educating is more than that. To educate, we need to also share the moral values along with life lessons from our personal experiences, and also to motivate the students to improve themselves, in order to prepare them for the real society or world.

I am able to teach them but not able to aducate them yet. Though it is regretful but I am still happy to be given the chance as a volunteer in CRC program by MDF. It opens up my heart more than my eyes.  A cure to my naivety.


Moving on, here is a message from Roly Cristi Tambunan.


Hello, My name is Roly. I am going to share a little of my experience in volunteering in Gugah Nurani Indonesia, a non-governmental organization. It was about three months ago, since this post is published, when I got the chance to join the volunteer teaching program in Belawan, Medan, which is supported by MDF.

Though the destination is quite a bit far from my origin, the thought of meeting new kids, new people, and to be able to share with them are a special thing that makes me happy. Well, as my first it is, I enjoy very much everything there.

But, here is the real story.

We were there to do something more than just teaching the children without love. The team and I did set some goals, such as to monitor the progress of the kids, how far the teaching materials are being covered, also to ensure whether the difficulty of the lesson is suitable for their level or not.

However, our expectations do not come true. Worse, it is not even close with what we have been planning.

The children there have no idea how much stress had been inflicted on me. There were times when i got really mad (yes, literally) because of the environment that is so-not conducive for learning. I even made myself scream a lot, and since then I have successfully attained the scary teacher label. Well, I do not mind about that. In the class, I tried to always communicate to them the reason why I was being loud and mad. They still have the need to learn to respect people.

From that moment on, I learnt how to be brutal yet elegant on delivering lessons with my style. Truthfully speaking, patience is a level which seems to be impossible for me. Moreover, after witnessing the screwed plan that we have prepared, the condition taught me to be as flexible as how I am teaching in front of the class. I can’t be stiff when I am dealing with such situation. You would have to bring any stories and do any means necessary just to catch their attention.

There were times when I only had myself two students in the class. In fact, it was sinful if I intentionally teach them poorly, as I did not find any encouragement to give my best. But then, I pushed myself to teach as steady as possible. Otherwise, they will fall asleep.

I realized that being an educator is not something that just require the ability to teach, but also the ability to run the class as effective as possible, and to have your student enjoy your explanation.

Frankly speaking, if you are truly have the desire to give some portion of your life dedicated for being a volunteer, I would suggest you to really think further about it again, and again. Perhaps, you could start with equipping yourself with the heart, the desire to share your privilege with others. Not just carrying your idealism, or what you you have, but rather what you can share.


Now that both of our volunteers have shared their inspiring lesson from being a volunteer in GNI, We do hope that those messages would keep you motivated in pursuing your noble dream, to exercise your love and care for other people, regardless of their constraints.

Here’s a little photo from us. Taken on the last class meeting.

From the left: Wiwi (class assistant), Dwi Damayanti & Satya Kevino (our volunteers), Christin (program supervisor)

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