VOLUNTEER STORIESYou might have some doubts in your mind about coming to Myanmar, not knowing what to expect... So, we have gathered some testimonials from our previous volunteers, some of which started volunteering regularly! The fact is, Mynamar is full of smiling and warm hearted people. Every little effort that you make will be very important for them and will be greatly appreciated. It will also give you a unique opportunity to travel to a place that has not yet overturned by mass tourism and to have heart warming experiences that you’ll hold dear for the rest of your life.
Before we go there we didn’t know what to expect, to be honest. But we were totally baffled and amazed by the warm welcome of the students, teachers and the principal of the centre (Pongy). Everybody made us feel that we were a part of this huge family, from the very beginning of our assignment. For us it was a once-in- a-lifetime experience that we’ll never forget. It was great fun to teach English to the students as well as to the teachers. Thank you for all the laughter! Besides teaching, it was beautiful to see that so many children found a new home here in Aung Mae Oo, and Pongy is a person who loves them with all his heart. The connection he had with “his kids” touched us deeply.
Thank you so much for this experience and all the memories we took home in our hearts.
In March 2017, I spent 2 weeks in Aung Mae Oo in Sagaing Hills, Myanmar. It was the first time for me to visit Myanmar and to spent time with buddhist monks, as well as it was the first time for me to teach English to a class of students - the experience was incredibly amazing! First of all, living in a buddhist monastery school and participating in the daily routine was more than I could have expected. Some days I participated in the morning alms rounds where the monks walk through the village to collect donations (mostly food for the day). In the evening, the abbot always held a small reunion with all the kids where he would talk about the day and we sing and pray together. While it is a buddhist school, everybody is very open minded and respectful towards other beliefs. Some teachers are monks themselves, others are not, and I felt very welcomed even though I am not a practicing buddhist myself.
I enjoyed the teaching experience a lot. Most days I held a basic conversation class with a group of 15 years olds in the morning, then spent time with the Kindergarden kids and played with them and sang English songs. In the afternoon, I got together with the teachers who have a more advanced level of English and we did conversation classes. I was very free to design the classes and could use all my creativity to come up with interesting topics to talk about and play interactive games to get the students talking. The main challenge is pronunciation and overcoming the shiness of some students to talk. It was such a rewarding experience to see how eager they all were to learn English and with some of them I even continue practicing via chat today!
Myanmar is just a beautiful country with wonderful, friendly people and stunning landscapes. The area around Sagaing Hill is breathtaking with all the temples and perfectly situated to explore the rest of the country.
Overall, I can strongly recommend to anyone to join the Aung Mae Oo team and help building a solid English practice with the wonderful people there. The new project to introduce a more Waldorf based learning approach will surely be a great success - as for myself, I plan to go back to Aung Mae Oo as soon as I can!
My first exposure to Aung Mae Oo was through Mokkhita, who I met at a meditation center in Frankfurt, Germany (I worked there as a teaching librarian at an international school). I traveled to Sagaing at the same time Mokkhita and other ‘Western’ monks were at Aung Mae Oo. I arrived in Mandalay and we went to Phaung Daw Oo, a large monastic school there. It was great to visit. They have far more resources and are thus more developed than Sagaing but there is a partnership between them and Aung Mae Oo.
The most amazing thing about Myanmar are the Burmese people. Their brilliant positivity and naïveté is endearing. They work very hard to welcome volunteers and cater to needs. They are curious and kind.
I taught in most of the classes at Aung Mae Oo and taught the teachers English in the evenings. There was another amazing volunteer, Lisa, who arrived about a week after I did. I got sick and couldn't help much with the big cleaning day. There was no running water when I was there so Ponji had to call in trucks to deliver water. The cleaning day was a much-needed success!
Overall, we worked as a great team - monks, nuns, teachers, students, and volunteers. We created some documents and systems that will hopefully help them now and also in the future.
Lisa and I also had the opportunities to visit nearby beautiful areas, pagodas, landmarks, and we even went to a wedding! We spent some more time in Mandalay, buying resources for the school. Sharing those toys with the kids was a wonderful sight!
I can't encapsulate my experience in any words. It was truly life-changing. I feel that I left a part of my heart in Myanmar. Thus, I have kept in touch with Mokkhita and the teachers since, helping on various projects. I'm excited for the future of Aung Mae Oo and the Mudita project!
I volunteered in Aung Mae Oo for 2 weeks and I can tell from my heart this was o once in a lifetime experience. To interact very close with the students, the teachers and everyone else who is part of the school made my stay unforgettable. At Aung Mae Oo, everyone is more than nice and you will be taken care of. There’s always someone who asks if you are alright or if you need anything.
I was teaching English in the morning and in the afternoon, I was working on several projects (which you can initiate on your own), like cleaning day for the school area or a daily kids cleaning project. So I could structure my day as I wanted and put the focus on the projects I wanted. It was great to see how students and teachers are happy about your ideas and support you a lot to put your plans into action!
I can recommend to anyone who would like to join a volunteer project to go to Aung Mae Oo, because of its awesome people and given possibilities!
I heard about Aung Mae Oo from my German friend, that it was a staying and studying place for poor children from all around Myanmar. So, I decided to ho there during my holiday. It was school holiday when I got there, so only some children and novices were staying in. Some were watching movie on an old TV with a blurry screen on the floor and some were playing footbal on a dirt field... During I was there, I got a warm welcome from Pongy (the principal), teachers and children. Especialy children... They were eager to learn everything! I taught English and some trivia about my country (Thailand). I also taught them how to wash their clothes by hand and how to wash themselves properly. Some were too young to do it all by themselves, but they did it by helping eachother and we had fun together. I just hope they will get a beter life. Great experience for me! Thank you Pongy and Mokkhita, two of you are working very hard for them.