Every little bit helps! Many people from Indonesia and from around the world have volunteered their valuable time, skills and experience to the growth and success of BCU by undertaking a range of tasks and activities. At the same time, volunteers get to experience a new culture.
We are committed to supporting volunteers in any way we can to ensure that their volunteer experience is a positive and fun learning experience for them as well as for our school and students.
Volunteer teacher Policy
are you interested in becoming a volunteer?
Find out how you could share enriching experiences with us.
Learn how to apply here.
A list of the invaluable volunteers who travelled from far and wide to share this learning journey with us.
Bina Cita Utama are eternally grateful for the efforts of those who have contributed their time and energy into our school.
They are a direct example to the students that learning, exploring and experiencing goes beyond the schooling system, and will continue throughout our lives what ever age we are.
My experience as a volunteer at BCU
I’m working in the school for one year and half now as a volunteer. I’m teaching French, Art, Geography and Citizenship from primary school to high school. I was primary school teacher when I was living in France so teaching high school and in the English language that was not very familiar for me, was a real challenge!
But with the time, the support of the staff of the school and the students who are really amazing I start to improve my English, my way of teaching and most of all, I learn to be more patient. I learnt a lot and I still continue to learn a lot in this school and that is great, it’s really amazing. I was coming to teach and actually it’s me that learn and I learn very important things, that I think I will never be able to learn in another situation.
I learn from the students who teach me to smile, to be patient, I learn from the other Indonesian teachers who introduce me to a new and passionate culture, sharing incredible stories about their country, I learn from the other volunteer teachers who come from every country of the world, I learn from the administration staff to be grateful and helpful…I learn to do my best, slowly, each day, trying to be more creative, more precise, contribute step by step at what I’m able to give to the school.
To have the opportunity to live in Rungan Sari is also amazing. I meet incredible people, I get so many new friends from all over the world, I can do the latihan 3 times a week and I see the latihan hall from my window and the nature around, the jungle and the forest is amazing. The inner process is quite intense too….It’s like Kalimantan knows our weaknesses and points them out.
It’s so painful at first but after a while we realize it’s for our own improvement; it’s a formidable opportunity to work on ourselves and to improve. The help of God is so strong and I can really feel all the blessings of God for me. I have never felt so happy and so lucky. I use to think how I’m so lucky to live in this place and to work in this school. I never received so many blessings. I change so much and continue to change every day.
I love also Indonesia, the people and the culture is amazing for me. I never want to stop to learn about the language, the history, the beliefs of people, the art, the music. I feel like it’s my own country and I don’t know if one day I will be able to leave this country.
-Each Wednesday, I’m going also to teach art in an orphanage and I really love it. I feel so happy there, in the middle of these children. I feel God guides me and shows me the way how to do things and how to behave in my life. I feel there is something in this orphanage for my future life, something to do maybe. In Kalimantan, because it’s a quiet place, it’s like I can feel more guidance and more patience because there are space inside for things like this happen.
When I returned to Rungan Sari in 2011, my plan was to not teach and I was only going to stay for four months, maximum. I wanted to volunteer at the organic farm and continue my studies afterwards. I stopped volunteering at the farm after two months. And those four months I gave myself eventually became twelve, by the end of which I decided to commit another twelve months of teaching at BCU.
I never would have imagined the kind of bond and attachment I would develop with the people and the place. I never would have imagined that four 2nd graders would lead me to my decision to stay. They reminded me how fun and enjoyable learning could be, and how truly invaluable it is to share that with them.
During my last year at BCU I had the pleasure of being the first grade homeroom teacher, as well as their English, Social Studies, Citizenship, and Health teacher. It was puzzling for my first graders when I told them that I was also learning from them. They were used to viewing the teacher as the authoritarian figure who dictates what they are supposed to be learning each day. It might be a while before they can understand this wholly, but through them I have learned so much more than “being patient”. Through them I have learned again and again how to appreciate each child as a unique individual. By the end of the year, I was not “just” their teacher. I had progressively taken on the role of nurturer, confidante, and, sometimes, clown, and they became my kids.
Although we worked hard on being able to read, write, and converse in English, I think what we worked on together the most that year was to be caring, tolerant and respectful of each other.
One of my favorite learning experiences involves a boy who joined our class very late in the school year (with only nine weeks left). He came with an array of interesting behaviors that were disruptive and made every class activity nearly impossible to carry out. I must have gone home in tears at least once a week that month, not knowing how to handle this child and his issues. Upon the recommendation of a school psychologist, I made him a behavior contract (i.e. a sticker/reward chart) that he agreed to follow. Over time he showed improvements in his behavior and his social skills. And what I found to be remarkable was that it wasn’t the sticker chart that was helping him, it was in fact his classmates. It was incredible to witness how understanding these little people were of the boy. They never excluded him, nor did they ever label him as the “bad kid”. They modeled exemplary behavior in school that the boy eventually followed.
I am eternally grateful to have had this experience, to have met all the wonderful people and to have been a part of the growing community of BCU and Rungan Sari.
My Experience as a Volunteer
In my experience being a BCU volunteer is very rewarding.
I was a volunteer for 1 year and I helped as an art teacher. I tried to give the kids activities that were more “outside the box” since I have a great knowledge of plastic arts.
It was a valuable opportunity to grow and share my qualities with a community that is very helpful and friendly, and also with a school like BCU where the teachers and students are genuinely good people.
You as a volunteer, are helped to adjust to a new and different lifestyle. However, it’s good that if before you go, you already know what skills you have and what you may be able to do with them to add something interesting to the students’ curriculum.
Being a volunteer is a big responsibility because we have a chance to show the students new ways of thinking and also share we them the knowledge that they may not have the opportunity to learn otherwise. We are the intermediaries to the rest of the world and we can keep the school always moving in diverse directions.
Don’t get me wrong though, it wasn’t always a sea of roses… There are tough moments too. It can be really hard to live in the middle of nowhere. There are a lot of challenges, such as the weather, food resources, mosquitoes and so on. Even the pace of life can be hard, as things move on a different rhythm and you must adjust your expectations to that. I don’t think it’s for everybody, but if you have an open heart it might just be the right thing for you.
The most important values that I learned there were patience, acceptance and sensibility. Because you are living in the middle of the jungle, you feel your connection with Nature and respect it more, especially if you come from a city like I do.
My BCU School Volunteer Teaching Experience
I heard about the opportunity to volunteer teach at BCU school through my dear friends Ren Feldman and Cedar Barstow who spent six months teaching there more than five years ago. They assured me the experience would be both expanding, challenging and always entertaining.
I couldn’t take advantage of the volunteer program immediately due to the needs of my aging mother as well as the needs of my growing home services business. By early 2017 I could see my way clear to spending six months away. Due to the complications of my living situation and my business it took more than a year to plan the trip.
I had heard a great deal about life in Central Kalimantan. My excitement mounted as I studied Bahasa Indonesia, researched the culture of Borneo, and discovered as much as I could about the school and the Rungan Sari community.
My background is in art and design. That is what I thought I would be teaching. As it turned out, another volunteer had been engaged as art teacher and I was assigned to work in other subjects. At first I was disappointed as I loved teaching creativity. I later discovered that I would benefit from the stretching required of me to work in these less familiar areas. After all, that difference is what I was seeking in spending time in a place so radically different from the US.
I worked as a substitute teacher, teaching assistant and co- teacher. I especially liked engaging with the grade ten class in several subjects; English, Drama, and Economics. I was also assigned to assistant teach English and Drama for grades four – five and seven – eight.
I became quite fond of all the children but especially of the fifteen and sixteen-year-old grade ten students. Grade ten is when the mind wakes up to the deeper, wider world of ideas and critical thinking. I was happy to be a part of that experience with them. We shared many engaging experiences related to the challenges of learning a second language, development of ideas for the BCU graduation performance and discovery of Indonesian and Western cultural forms in the dramatic arts.
The BCU School volunteer program offered a unique living experience as well. I enjoyed a lovely house, weekly access to shopping excursions into town and a wonderful cook and housekeeper.
Life in rural Kalimantan involved constant discovery opportunities with both the local people as well as expatriate Asians, Europeans, Australians, and South Americans. The rich social and cultural life of Rungan Sari greatly enhanced the experience of teaching at BCU School.
I sincerely thank the administrators, teachers and staff of the BCU School for their graciousness and attentiveness to the needs of the volunteers. The volunteer program is an exceptional opportunity for expansion and integration of personal and interpersonal life experience. I hope, as the school grows, the volunteer teacher program may grow with it. I am happy to offer my assistance in nurturing that growth in any way I can.
BCU School Volunteer Teacher, January 15- June 8, 2018