Behind the Scenes
Hi, we're Mary and Han! We met when Mary took fainted Han to the nurse's office on the first day Han transferred to our middle school, and we have been best friends ever since then. We have always bonded over having genuine curiosity about the world, traveling, listening to English songs, and reading foreign novels. Both of us have had the fortune to learn English as a second language, which has given us a key to access the broader world, make international friends, share our culture, and keep an open-mind.
One year Han volunteered in Bali as an English teacher and was amazed by the kids and their culture. So she brought Mary with her the next summer. Unsurprisingly, Mary was also captivated by the local youth and their way of life. It was all the small things that had an impact on us - kids putting our hands on their foreheads as a gesture to say thank you and friendly locals putting freshly picked flowers in our hair. We also got to try out their traditional clothes and learn their traditional dance. We felt that we learned as much from the kids as they learned from us.
We witnessed how learning English had changed people for the better. “Being able to learn English gives you so many more opportunities, and we can talk about our culture with sisters and brothers who come from all over the world to visit,” says Sri, a local university student who was the first one to be able to learn English in her family. Being English language learners ourselves, we couldn’t agree more with Sri.
We noticed that many kids in Bali's outlying villages lacked financial resources to access formal English language courses, despite the fact that such an education is absolutely essential. Nonetheless, whenever a volunteer teacher was present, the children would put forth their utmost effort into learning. “I still remember how they squinted their eyes to write down class notes through the faint light on a rainy day,” said Han. “There weren’t sufficient lights or stable internet at their schools, but the kids were still trying their best to learn.”
Local principals and community leaders also conveyed that even though their children were eager to learn, they were often challenged by having inconsistent, short-term, untrained volunteers and a lack of a formal course structure. Children showed slow progress because of these obstacles. Some children who had learned English on and off for three years had not even mastered self-introduction. The situation worsened when the pandemic hit. “Kids in the city are still getting English education, but we don’t even have volunteers coming in any more. Our kids are falling behind…,” community leader mama Eka told us when she reached out to ask if there is anything we could do.
That’s when we decided to start Lingua Light. Shortly after, our other like-minded founding team members joined us. Our team is passionate about providing opportunities for children in Bali to continue their English language education. Also, having experienced and learned about their beautiful culture, we want to ensure our program embodies cultural humility. We structure what we teach based on what the children and local families tell us is crucial for them, and we strive to build a bridge for our volunteers and the world to learn about Bali’s beautiful culture.
Thank you to everyone who supports our vision. We are excited to continue our journey at Lingua Light with you.