A Timor Reflection
The two weeks I spent in Timor over the school holidays were the best two weeks of my life. I met new people, discovered a new language and developed an appreciation for a new culture.
Our journey started on Friday the 22nd of June, where we got on a bus to travel to the airport. The group bonding started there. Everyone was talking to one another and beginning to create new friendships. We had a four-hour plane ride to Darwin followed by an overnight stay on the airport floor. Here we talked, played cards and got a little bit of sleep. A short early morning flight saw us in the capital, Dili by 9am. Here I was able to uncover the truths of this underdeveloped yet underappreciated country.
On day two, we took the most amazing bus ride, down the coast, over the mountains and through small country towns. We saw incredible sights along the way including the ocean breeze rushing through our hair and the unmissable green scenery out the bus windows. 10 hours later, covered from head to toe in the red dust of the dirt road, we reached Viqueque. Here we got to discover the real Timor, where everyone was joyful and the town lived like one big, happy family. This is where I gained a true appreciation for the way they lived; although we have much more than they do, we are never happy with what we have and are always looking for bigger and better. By contrast, the Timorese seem content with the life they have and work with what they can afford.
Over the next few days we were presented with some challenges whilst teaching, however, that did not stop us. I enjoyed every minute of these classes knowing I was helping these students. English is the language of the world and by teaching them English we are allowing the students to communicate with other cultures and make the most of future employment opportunities. One of the best classes I was part of was at Caibera, here we taught a numbers lesson to the students, they then completed some worksheets followed by the teaching group splitting between the tables. Here we played cards, talked, laughed and just had a good time. In my group we played spit and Uno and the girls taught me lots of Tetum, including things like “I have…” and “I love you”. It was lots of fun for everyone and the company allowed us to create new connections with another culture.
Besides teaching English in Viqueque, we also played with the kids at Viqueque 1 each night. As we walked out of our place kids bombarded us from every direction. We played ball games, talked, skipped, taught them games and most importantly made friends. One thing that really stuck with me was that they played basketball with a backboard that had no rings. Rather than being like us and giving up because it was not perfect, they adapted the game. This is important to see that if something is not perfect rather than giving up change your approach and continue. Timor did not only allow me to teach English to the Timorese students, I also learnt many lessons that I can take away from the experience, including appreciation, discovery and perseverance.
This trip not only allowed me to connect with the Timorese students, I also developed strong friendships with my peers. We spent time working together in classes, playing with the children together, playing cards and other games back at our accommodation and talking all the time. The relationships we built throughout the trip will be forever lasting and we will always have the memories we shared over the most enjoyable two weeks.
Article and photos by Paige Rowan