University of Alabama

Helmi Henkin

B.S. in Psychology and French

"Every single one of the other volunteers were so inclusive, which probably has something to do with all of us being in the same boat of not knowing anyone and wanting to make new friends, but the kindness they showed me left a lasting impact. It was incredible to feel like I could talk to anyone and to feel completely loved for unabashedly being myself. The bonds I formed with people are hopefully going to last a lifetime. It was also encouraging that, because of our shared interest in clinical psychology and shared objectives of what we wanted to get out of the placement, every volunteer was hard working which resulted in effective planning of sessions that were enjoyed immensely by the service users who participated in them."

"My homestay family was better than I could have ever imagined. There were a bunch of little ones, whom I loved playing with, as well as a few kids my age who I hung out with often. The whole family, from the grandparents and parents to uncles and children, adopted me as one of their own and even cried when I left. One day I hope to go back, and it feels good knowing I’d be welcomed with open arms. Even months after returning to the states I talk to my homestay family frequently and our bond has remained just as strong."

"I lived in the only psychiatric hospital in Bali for a week and worked there once a week for the rest of the month, most of my projects involved teaching English and making arts and crafts with neurotypical highschoolers, neurotypical little ones, and children with varying special needs depending on the project, particularly physical or intellectual disabilities or hearing impairment. Every weekday we would drive to the school or institution where our project was located and engage with the children there in order to give them some stimulation or help them improve skills including gross and fine motor, memory, focus, and creativity. I have a gift for getting along with children so I absolutely enjoyed all of the work we did and felt comfortable with whatever group we were given. Being a part of the pilot placement often meant being the first ones ever to work at a project, which I found so exciting and gave me many opportunities to practice improvising if what we had planned for the day didn’t go quite like we thought it would."

"Some of the facilities we worked in were better equipped than facilities in the west, and most of them were government funded, which was awesome to observe. In most of the places, the children didn’t have a diagnosis for their disorders, but that did not really bother me since I know from experience that working with children with special needs is such a personalized thing anyway. The staff at the facilities had so much love for the children, which was so heartwarming to see. I also grew to love the children and develop strong bonds with the ones I saw on a regular basis."