January 2015 –  The Collaboration Centre is open! But an opening would not be the same without a celebration, and the people in Mapadegat know how to party! It was an all day and community affair with beach games during the day, karaoke in the afternoon and a ‘dance til you drop’ in the evening. It was great to share the day with guests from around the world including Jamie Gray, the Director from The Perfect Wave, along with his family. Many thanks goes to Lizzie Murray, the founder of A Liquid Future, whose determination and hard work got the Collaboration Centre started here in the Mentawai Islands.

February 2015 – With the Collaboration Centre now open for its community, the task of registering students for English classes has begun. It is great to see so many different age groups keen to learn English and the classes are filling up quickly. In these early stages, learning English will be the main focus at the centre but the hope is to gradually collaborate more and spread our wings into some new and exciting projects.

February 2015 – Living in a small village means being part of a small community. We have been constantly amazed by the skills that the locals have been willing to share with us to help make the Collaboration Centre a special place. The grounds in front of the centre have recently been transformed thanks to some awesome woodworking and creative use of driftwood, so we now have three beautifully hand-made chairs for people to relax under the trees.

March 2015 – English classes are now in full swing and we are lucky enough to have a large teaching space along with a smaller room for group work. Teaching and learning English to such a friendly and fun loving community is a joy for our two resident volunteers Tom and Karen. They love the challenges and rewards of working in the Mentawais and collaborating with this community.

March 2015 – We took full advantage of professional chef, Dan Brightman, when he came to stay at the Collaboration Centre for two weeks. He established a small vocational group of local surfers who are keen to learn new skills. This week, we got them into the kitchen and baked up fresh bread. The aromas that were wafting around the centre were amazing. Although still early days, the plan for this vocational group is to broaden their skill set and, who knows, there maybe a future Jamie Oliver amongst them!

April 2015 – Easter with a Mentawai twist consisted of an Easter egg hunt, tug of war then some freestyle dancing! It was great to see the community turn out in force to enjoy the day’s fun and games. Community events like this are what makes the Collaboration Centre such a special place.

April 2015 – The vocational group have continued their ‘Great Mentawai Bake Off’ this week. On the menu were shortbread biscuits combined with lots of laughs and a shed load of mess! We look forward to working with this group of surfers and learning some new skills together.

April 2015 – We always welcome visitors to our Collaboration Centre and, with help from a new programme set up by The Perfect Wave and the Aloita Resort, we had the chance to practise our English with some visitors from Australia. These programmes provide a perfect collaborative opportunity as visitors to the area can immerse themselves more in the local community and discover there’s more to the Mentawais than the waves.

April 2015 – We have been learning about parts of the face this week at the Collaboration Centre which has been lots of fun! The English programmes on offer at the centre cater for all ages with a real focus on speaking and listening. We also have included topics centred around the environment, culture, tourism,music & art, these help ensure our programmes are interesting and relevant to our students.

May 2015 – The latest craze to hit the Collaboration Centre here in the Mentawais – dominoes! As the day cools down, tables and chairs are dragged out onto the grass and the familiar sounds of slapping dominoes and screams of excitement take over.

May 2015 – This week we visited the doctor at the Collaboration Centre to help us learn about body parts. Luckily we had plenty of toilet paper on hand to fix the many injuries. It was great to watch the students practice their English on each other and also see how far they have come from the beginning of the course.

May 2015 – Sunday afternoon at the beach, we are so lucky to have the ocean on our doorstep. Developing a love and respect for the sea for these young people is an important part of growing up on a small island. As the Collaboration Centre is now beginning to find its feet with the English and Vocational programmes in full swing, we are looking to start new programmes based around the ocean, so watch this space!

May 2015 – We were very lucky to have Emi and Nico from Coast to Coast visit us for three days of artistic collaboration! They came laden with paints, brushes, cameras, and artistic flair! The three day course centred around a mural on the side of the Collaboration Centre which gradually took shape as the days went on. Students were also taught how to use cameras and invited to take pictures capturing three aspects of their environment: village life, beach life and ocean life. The results were awesome. Check out www.coast2coastproject.org for more details.

July 2015 – Our Vocational Group in action! Under the watchful eye of Flavio from the Aloita resort and partnering with The Perfect Wave, they are learning the skills of a surf guide and coach that could be helpful in future employment. We have also had sessions on first aid, courtesy of a nurse who happened to be a guest at the resort. With the course all in English, there was a lot to take in but we had a lot of laughs along the way!

July 2015 – Thanks to your kind donations, we have been able to buy a projector for the Collaboration Centre here in the Mentawais. It has really helped to enhance the learning of English for our students. We also look forward to using it in other collaborative projects.

August 2015 – We have been working on some great new wall displays to bring the inside of our Collaboration Centre alive. We had a lot of fun painting a colourful world, check out the video too!

August 2015 – Living in and running a project in this small village has been challenging in a lot of different ways. It is sometimes important to realise how lucky we are that the local people have welcomed us in and made us feel part of their community. Spending time walking around the village reminds us why we are here.

August 2015 – Our new youngest beginner class were learning about colours and nationalities, which provided a perfect opportunity to combine our learning with Independence Day. Selamat Hari Kemerdakaan Indonesia!

September 2015 – Whatever their age, the locals from Mapadegat always rock in the water! It’s great to see the local guys showing respect for their waves and the ocean while also sharing their excitement with the flow of tourists that visit this small community. Our next mission, by the end of the year, is to try and get more females out in the line-up. Watch this space!

September 2015 – We had some lovely guests from Italy in our classroom this week. It was a chance to show off our newfound English skills. The guests were great sports and got involved with singing and dancing. As we approach the end of our second course, it’s lovely to see students, who began the year with no English, now confidently introducing themselves to tourists, asking questions and responding appropriately.

September 2015 – Development has reached the doorstep of our Collaboration Centre here in the Mentawai Islands. Everybody is excited about the new road and it has provided plenty of entertainment for our young students! Let’s hope this community are the decision makers for further development that will inevitably follow.

September 2015 – What an amazing day! The crew from The Perfect Wave visited our Collaboration Centre and brought energy, excitement and big smiles all round. The centre was converted into ashopping market and the visitors were invited to buy and converse in English to our student shopkeepers. Then, as the market closed for business, we headed to the beach for games and the obligatory tug of war!

September 2015 – We have finished the second course here at the Collaboration Centre in the Mentawais, some of our proud students can now show off their certificates. We have lots to look forward to in November when the next course starts.

November 2015 – These students travelled for two hours to practice their English with us at the Collaboration Centre – now that’s dedication!

November 2015 –It is sometimes difficult to put into words what it is like living and working on a project like this here in the Mentawais. We have tried to compile a short video to capture the spirit of the community here and who better to provide the soundtrack but Bob Marley!

November 2015 – Our female only swimming and surf programme is now underway! Thanks to The Perfect Wave for donating two beginners boards to get us started. The programme aims to get more girls confident in the water and the surf. In this male dominated culture, we often see girls as spectators only. We hope to empower them and, with surf tourism on the rise here, it would be great to see local female surfers becoming more involved.

November 2015 – Our adult students have been great ambassadors for the English courses that we offer at the Collaboration Centre. Their love for lifelong learning makes teaching a joy. We spent Sunday night with them and cooked up a feast of fried bananas and cassava then headed to the beach to watch the sunset. Lots of English practice and singing!

December 2015 – We were lucky enough to be invited on a jungle trek by one our students this weekend. She, and her team, were collecting samples of fauna as part of their job in the department of agriculture. It was great to see a different part of the island and reminded us of how lucky we are to be surrounded by such a diverse environment. Let’s hope her team’s work secures the future for the fragile jungle on this island.

December 2015 – Our students have been enjoying ‘Let’s Chat’ sessions with each other and visiting tourists. Using their new learning, students are encouraged to converse in English only about a given topic using prompts to help them. The results are fascinating and a joy to listen to. It’s lovely to watch students practice their new language skills and grow in confidence.

December 2015 – Who needs televisions, iPads and Playstations when you have straws, flowers and the wind to enjoy? Growing up in an environment like this requires you to be creative with the resources you have around you, and the children in this village never cease to amaze us with the games and toys they use.

December 2015 – The ‘Surf Girls’ have had lots of fun in the surf recently, thanks to the kind donation of two more beginners boards from The Perfect Wave. We have also ventured out to Telescopes and surfed over reef for the first time. As we paddled out to this world famous left hander there were definitely a few butterflies, but those were soon forgotten as the girls starting paddling into some epic drops – excellent work ladies!

December 2015 – Merry Christmas everybody from all of us at the Collaboration Centre. Some students spoke in front of the congregation at the local church on Christmas Eve and did themselves proud. We hope all our students enjoy the festive season and we look forward to seeing you all again in the New Year.

December 2015 – Some hidden talents shone through during one of our adult classes today and we really wanted to share the video they made. Marie Carey eat your heart out! Watch the video, we’ll say no more!

February 2016 – Almost a year has passed since we opened the doors at the Collaboration Centre here in the Mentawai Islands and it was great to end our third English course on a real high with our classes, from our young students to our adult classes, receiving their certificates. The new course starts at the end of the month and we look forward to seeing all our existing students again as well as welcoming some new faces.