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Roy Chrismantika Simamora

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"Pestalozzi gave me the knowledge and confidence”

Roy Chrismantika Simamora attended Pestalozzi from August 2015 to July 2017 and studied biology, maths, further maths and chemistry. His aim after his time here was to develop his bio-chemistry knowledge by securing a place at university, hopefully in the USA. He knew a place wouldn’t be available immediately, but secured a place for autumn 2018. Whilst finalising his time at Pestalozzi, he had been thinking about his home surroundings with new eyes, and realised that helping some of the youngsters in his part of the world would be a good way to spend some of the intervening months before attending university.

He has more than achieved his aim, and his is a truly inspiring story of one young person’s hopes and dreams becoming reality. Here is Roy’s story, so far:

After returning home, I contacted Volunteer Program Bali which helps students study English. They invite people from outside the country – including Europe and America - to teach local children English after school hours. I joined the program, and found out some of the kids (8 from my class, 7 to 10 years old) don’t go to school because their parents work in the fields or in the market, or are out on the street. I decided to do something about this, so I talked to the parents and said ‘how about if I feed them if you allow them to come to me, and I’ll teach them in the morning?’ They said, ‘are you sure you can provide them food?’ I was scared because I didn’t have a proper job at the time, but I said yes I could. I applied to a local bar and worked part-time during the night, and then used the money to pay for meals for the kids every time they came to me.

They were getting Indonesian food – rice - so I bought rice from the market. It’s not a proper English meal, but it’s enough for us! I also contacted some friends outside Bali, and they sent me a few pounds every month. It doesn’t sound a lot, but sometimes it was the difference between having a proper meal or very little to eat.

The program is actually for a paid volunteer, so if someone wants to volunteer they have to pay for their accommodation and food. I explained my situation to the manager of the NGO and they said they would waive the accommodation costs, but I would have to pay for food. I used the money I earned from bar work to sustain myself.

I’m not doing my volunteering job right now because its high season; many people come to Bali to teach and the organisation cannot provide me with accommodation - but I will join them again in February.

I taught most of the kids basic English and grammar. Those who don’t attend school regularly I taught how to read, count, and write because they skip the first and second grade, and I had to teach them from scratch. I’m not worried about the students in general because they are still at school. I am worried about the 8 kids I taught in the mornings because they have stopped reading books; they have stopped singing the ABC’s. I’m worried they aren’t progressing. I’m trying to find book supplies so even though I’m not in Bali I can still provide them with books. When I return in February I hope to have the same opportunities I had before, and will continue with my 8 kids. Hopefully, it will set them on the road to education - and maybe they’ll end up at Pestalozzi!

I don’t see myself as a teacher in the future, but will work in my field of science and maybe teach high-school students biology or similar. It was a struggle the first time I taught the kids, but I want to return to them after I finish my graduate study.

In Indonesia we have so many diverse cultures and it’s very different from Bali, so it was a culture shock when I arrived there, but Pestalozzi taught me that we have to respect each other; we have to learn how others live, so it wasn’t really hard for me to integrate.

I joined the academic club when at Pestalozzi, and taught biology and maths to my juniors. I didn’t find it too much trouble teaching them because I realised if they weren’t enjoying a class I should teach a different way. I learned how to teach when I was at Pestalozzi and, more importantly, they gave me the knowledge and confidence I needed to succeed.

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Inspiring young people to make a difference in the world.