- Group:Kumon Leysin Academy of Switzerland (KLAS)
- Group Size:15 students and 1 teacher
- Project:Care & Community
- Destination:Brasov, Transylvania, Romania
The Kumon Leysin Academy of Switzerland is a school for Japanese students based in the Swiss Alps. In March 2016, they sent a group of 14 students and 1 teacher on a 9 day trip to volunteer in a special school on the outskirts of Brasov. After fundraising money for the trip through various activities, including clearing some of the local roads of snow, as well as gathering old clothes to give to the children, they were ready for their new experience.
What did they do?
After spending the first day taking a tour of the local area, they spent the majority of their trip working in the Bradet Special School helping to teach English to orphaned and disabled children. They also redecorated numerous rooms throughout the school to brighten it up for those studying there, as well as playing numerous games and sports with the children. Before they left they also got the opportunity to explore different castles and museums including Dracula’s famous Bran Castle, try traditional Romanian food at multiple restaurants, do a spot of shopping and sightseeing in the city as well as catching a film and learning some traditional Romanian dances.
Thoughts from the group
Reasons for volunteering in Romania
"I have never had an inconvenient life and I have always lived in an advanced country, so there are many things surrounding me and I don’t have trouble. For example, I can change my clothes and eat many delicious foods every day. Therefore I didn’t know a developing country life, so I wanted to experience it myself. In addition, I thought that there were no developing countries in Europe, so when I heard about Romania, I wanted to see the reality."
What did you do to prepare?
"We did two things. First was collecting clothes for the children and secondly was snow activity, which was to remove snow from the road."
"I prepared English cards with pictures, for example; animal, alphabet, number, colour, weather and emotion. Also l thought about what we would do during this trip. I thought of five ideas. I would teach colour, weather, alphabet and numbers with some games. Then I simulated how to teach them, so I taught my friend what we would do on this trip."
How was the project?
"We gave clothes to the children and I also gave them a soccer ball because I wanted them to play soccer with their friends. I play soccer, so I know how it is a very interesting and exciting sport. If you play soccer, you can spread a circle of friendship. After that, we had to say goodbye. It was very sad and I felt painful feelings."
"We painted the walls in the orphanage that we visited to help, and we taught English to the children. This was the first time in my life that I taught something to someone. In my country, we do not paint walls in houses, we put up wallpaper. On the other hand, according to the decorator who taught us how to do it, they paint walls to change wall colours in Romania. We played basketball with them too and on the final day, we gave them clothes which we collected from our students."
How were your weekend trips?
"We went to famous castles, the cinema and a shopping mall that was the one of the biggest in Brasov. The shopping mall was really big and there were famous shops. I realised that the gap between the rich and the poor was so wide. My favourite part of this trip was the teachers took us to a lot of restaurants, and I ate many traditional Romanian foods. Moreover, we were taught traditional Romanian dances twice when we went to the restaurants."
"On our last day, I did not want to go back to Switzerland; I wanted to stay there more! While I stayed in Romania, everything was fresh and these memories are a treasure for me. I went to Romania in order to volunteer, but the children taught me many things. There was always a reason to laugh a lot, even though they were living in a situation of hardship. In addition, they lived very strong. If I have a chance to visit Romania in order to volunteer, I absolutely would want to go again."