Indonesian adventure | The story of Gloria

“Volunteering has always been one of my biggest dreams, something that I felt the need doing at least once in my lifetime. This opportunity arrived in April 2016, when I was elected as the winner of the contest launched by AIESEC Lugano at my university. Looking through the opportunities, I didn’t know what I wanted exactly. I just knew I wanted to go somewhere far away.

This is how I came across the project I applied for: Morning Sunshine in Indonesia. Immediately, I felt the positive vibes from the project’s name, and applied. Step after step, I went through the application process and coaching. I was mentally getting ready for my new experience, which I knew would change my life forever. I was aware that this meant going completely out of my comfort zone, so I tried not to set too high expectations. Actually, the only expectations were meeting new people who would leave a mark in my life, crossing the pre-set limits I had, and finally, enjoying every second of my time in Indonesia.

Once in Jakarta, I felt disoriented. But that was quickly replaced with warm welcoming, hugs, and smiles by the organizers Yvonne and Michael who took me to the base camp where we were staying.

17 international volunteers, 12 organizers, and 4 local volunteers. We became a family since day one. Is there anything better than feeling close with people you’ll be living with for 6 weeks?

Gloria in action: workshop with Senior High school students on characteristics and skills of a good vs. bad leader (SMAN 61, Jakarta)

“Gloria in action: workshop with Senior High school students on characteristics and skills of a good vs. bad leader (SMAN 61, Jakarta)”

This experience has been the best of my life, so far. Not only it gave me the opportunity to go to the other side of the world, see new places, meet new people, and widen my horizon, but it also made me grow, facing every challenge as a learning opportunity, while improving my skills.

The Morning Sunshine Project gave me the chance to improve my public speaking skills when going to high schools and teaching students about leadership. I was finally able to break the fear barrier when speaking in front of a public. It made me realize how much potential I actually have. Thanks to this experience I no longer underestimate myself nor my capabilities. I believe in myself and I know I can do great things.

Last but not least, it made me understand how lucky I am. I have learned not to take things for granted, because nothing on this planet is granted for us.

"Farewell party: 5 best volunteers won the award. I (2nd on the right) was nominated as the most innovative volunteer of the project. Blessed!"

“Farewell party: 5 best volunteers won the award. I (2nd on the right) was nominated as the most innovative volunteer of the project. Blessed!”

Also, I understood the value “thank you.”  After every class, the kids asked for our contacts, to follow us on Instagram, etc. I can’t describe how happy I was reading private messages from students saying, “Thank you, Miss Gloria. Your words changed my life.” or “You have inspired me to never give up. Thank you.” I didn’t believe that I could actually have an impact on someone’s life in such a short time. Only after receiving those sweet messages I understood that when I think I did little, for someone, I did a lot. Once you see with your own  eyes how a simple smile, hug, or a picture taken together can make someone’s day, you’ll value those little things way more. And these are the things that make a difference.

I would encourage everyone to go on an adventure like the one I had. It’s enriching, and you get the chance to discover and improve yourself.  After my time in Indonesia, I feel more self-confident, and my self-esteem has increased significantly. You’re in this new environment without the fear of being judged, living in the moment as it comes, and trying to make the best of it.

I build my life around memories and experiences, and my Indonesian adventure has given me a lot of those, and no one will ever be able to take them away from me. They’ll always have value, because they contributed to make me become the person that I am and will be in the future.”

Elementary kids drawing the Swiss flags and leaving messages for me on the paper.

“Elementary kids drawing the Swiss flags and leaving messages for me on the paper.”

If you want to have your own adventure, take a look at here.

Author: Gloria Mihaljevic & Melani Kalev