Hi! My name is Ali, and I’m one of the English teachers at Telunas Resorts.. I certainly didn’t think I would end up teaching English when I was first hired back in 2016. But over the years, I have learned that there is more than meets the eye at Telunas!
After working on the Guest Relations team for a couple of years, I transitioned into our Holistic Community Development department. Around that time, I was contacted by some of our local Telunas staff and some leaders from the small village of Tanjung Sesup, about 15 minutes from our property. They proposed that Telunas launch an English course for students in their community. Initially, I couldn’t imagine how this could work. There were a lot of barriers ahead of us. But as I took a step back, I thought about Indonesia’s 17,000+ islands, and how access to well-trained teachers is so difficult. There aren’t English classes offered to elementary students, and even in upper grades, not all schools receive a qualified English teacher. I reflected on my own education and how fortunate I was to have studied in a big city with better teachers and facilities than those in more remote places. I know that our government wants to improve the education system, but it takes time.
I began to get excited about the opportunity to extend a helping hand and to be a part of the solution. So together, we created a partnership. In order for the program to be sustainable, we knew that both parties would need to have a contribution, being willing to share both the liabilities and benefits of an endeavor together. We would provide teachers, teaching material, and transportation, and they promised a classroom meeting space, a place for our teachers to stay overnight, as well as parent and community support. From these discussions, we came upon an agreement that has allowed the program to run well for the last three years! There are now about 20 students, ranging in age from primary to high school, who join one of the three classes that we offer twice a week. Through developing the program in this collaborative way, we are encouraged to see the empowerment of the local community and the way it has begun to develop a real spirit of local pride.
Through these years, I have truly enjoyed this teaching journey together with my students. The experience of developing teaching material to fit their learning styles and needs has enriched my knowledge and shaped my perspective on life. I know that this program not only impacts the students, but it also impacts me! As a teacher, I can see myself growing in how to better listen to the needs of others and to respond in ways that make real change. Sometimes people ask me, “What recharges you?” I am realizing, through this program, that teaching does that for me! When I see how enthusiastic my students are to learn and to be able to speak English… when I observe their progress from the first class until the time that they are brave to speak with foreigners… it really is energizing! Last year, we hosted an English contest, including drama, a spelling bee and a speech competition. I was just amazed to see them showcase their abilities and creativity. We were also able to use some of the students recently to translate in the village for a large international school that came to Telunas. I am so humbled to be a part of this journey with them.
The Telunas English programs have continued to grow over the last few years, and we have now hired another English teacher. With the extra help, we can now provide an English program for another neighboring community, as well as for our own Telunas staff. Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, starting in March 2020, we had to suspend our normal teaching in the villages to be in compliance with government restrictions. However, we were able to continue a modified version of our classes through home-based learning and video conference learning once a week so that these students don’t lose the momentum and the skills they have learned already!
My dream, and certainly the hope of Telunas, is that our English program can open up greater educational opportunities for these local students in the future. Perhaps they will be more inspired to finish their high school diplomas. Maybe they will go on to university. And who knows? Maybe you will even see some of their faces hosting you at Telunas in the future!