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Naufal’s Story: How Volunteering Can Change A Life

As a part of each student’s year abroad, the student must complete some sort of volunteer service. Naufal, one of our YES students this year from Indonesia, volunteered during his high school’s homecoming, and had the most touching experience with a resident of the nursing home his class visited. Here is Naufal’s story.

This is a very unique story. When the homecoming day came, I was very excited to do all the activities on this day. I went to school with my special batik from Tulungagung and was ready to start my day.

All students that morning are in their advisory rooms. Each room had different places to go and do some volunteer activities. I still remember, the marching band walking around the hallways and playing some beat music. It made all spirits in the rooms blow up. It was loud and rousing. They were so good at playing instruments!

After that, we went to the Rehabilitation Center of Hampton by bus. At least three buses that morning had different routes. Our group, with Mr. Huling, walked to the living room and met with nurses who worked at the center. They asked us to interact with patients, like play games and walk around, so they can feel warmth and companionship. The unique story started while I talked with one of patients.

One of the women patients asked the people there to accompany her and walk around the rehabilitation center. So, I offered to walk with her. We go around for at least 45 minutes. We talked and enjoyed the views. I tried some cherries but the taste is so different from what I expected. I thought the red cherries would be sweet but they were so bitter, the taste was hard to lose on my tongue.

I tried to ask her for her name a few times, but she didn’t answer my question. She said that her mother always disparaged her about her name and I saw her face at that time. She looked so sad when I asked it. After that, I never asked for her name again because I didn’t want to ruin the atmosphere.

At 9:45, we went to the living room and took some rest with refreshments. She offered me a showing of the rehabilitation center. I said “Why not? Let’s go!” Her hands immediately grabbed my hand and she was very excited to show me the rooms in the center. I was so touched at that time.

She told me they have three dogs and two cats. She showed me where the office rooms were, including the president’s office. She told me about her friend’s room, about activities in this place like watching movies, dancing and singing karaoke. They have a gym too. We saw some of her friends in the gym room and they smiled to me.

After 45 minutes, we walked through many rooms. She showed me her room and I saw many photos on her wall. I think some of them are granddaughters/grandsons and few of them are her daughters/sons. She showed me a picture of when she was a teacher, with her students at elementary school. She told me some of them became lawyers, farmers, doctors and engineers. She had lots of students when she was a teacher.

It reminded me about my elementary teacher. She is very nice like her. I remember she would always support me when I was sad or disturbed by my friends. She is very funny too. When she wanted to showed me her picture, she forgot her picture! She looked so confused about where she was.

After that, she asked me, how much time I had left to stay here and I told her, “Maybe fifteen minutes.” She asked the nurse who had a camera to take a picture with me. Oh, that was such a sweet moment. Ten minutes later, my teacher came to tell me that we were leaving in five minutes. At the same time, she said, “He is very nice boy. Can he stay with me? Can I take him with me?”

I saw her so teary eyed. I didn’t think I could bear to leave her, but I had to go. It was such a touching moment in my life. I gave her a big hug and some notes about my name, school and where I am from. She accompanied me to the front door and waved her hands to me. Thankfully, I had a chance to ask for her name from one of the nurses. Her name is Ann Eddy.

From this experience I learned about the relations of the people here. I think sometimes people don’t want to get close because they very eagerly want to have a friend and a relation, but they would hate if they lost their friend. That makes a deep mark in both their and your memories when they lose you as their friend. I hope, we can all learn from this story. Thank you.

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