In search of warmer waters for winter, Mary Kate Hilmes embarked on an unconventional holiday: volunteer teaching for a month in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia. The logistics and supply chain management major spent the four weeks of winter break developing a curriculum in healthcare and environment protection for sixth graders.
Mary Kate loves logistics, but she also likes knowing how to do a number of different things. She arrived at her major because of an uncle who works for Springfield ReManufacturing Corporation (SRC). He suggested supply chain management, and, upon taking some classes, she realized she loved working with numbers and how data-oriented the major was. She added a general marketing minor, and, eventually, an accelerated MBA and master’s certificates in management and computer information systems to make herself as marketable as possible. “I want to show everyone that I could do anything they want me to do!” she says. On top of finishing her last 18-credit hour semester as an undergrad, she is also taking a Spanish course at OTC to prepare for her next volunteer trip to a Spanish-speaking country that she hasn’t chosen yet.
So, how did she end up in Ubud? Through extensive research, Mary Kate and Ryan, her boyfriend and a pre-med student, discovered International Volunteer HQ, which is a service that connects volunteers with volunteer organizations around the world. Through this website, they found Green Lion Bali, and they chose Ubud because it had a large population and was more centrally located on the island. When they arrived, they had a week to plan lessons for the topic of their choice—healthcare—and then were set in their own classroom with their sixth graders.
Before Mary Kate left, she learned some basic phrases in Bahasa, the local language. But another aspect of their lessons included English for the students, who start learning it in first grade. While teaching included having students repeat English phrases as they learned, Mary Kate and Ryan used actions and hand gestures to communicate more often than words. The students’ favorite word in English? “Awesome”!
Mary Kate says it was interesting to see how logistics work in an area where everything is sold in markets, everyone drives motorbikes and most all goods are imported via boat and plane instead of trucks. After graduating in May with her bachelor’s, Mary Kate will spend one more year on her master’s before graduating May 2018. After that, she hopes to be able to work for a nonprofit or NGO and do something that encompasses international business and logistics. Ideally, she wants to work for a U.S. company or organization and live abroad. “It’s not about the money,” she says, “It’s about you coming home every day and loving what you do.”
As she approaches graduation, she both looks forward to her next trip and what she’ll do when she finishes school entirely. “I came back [from Bali] more motivated because I knew I had skills that people needed,” she says. Volunteering abroad showed her—and future employers—that she’s not afraid to step out of her comfort zone to do something or complete a task.