An interview with Ulla Risager – the founder of Learn with Locals, Bali
In a former post I told you all about my unique experience with Learn with Locals here in Bali. (If you haven’t read it yet click here!) I joined the experience in which I was taught calligraphy by one of the locals. At a cafe named The Secret Spot I learned a new skill and met some amazing people. One of them was the beautiful and inspiring Ulla Risager who is the founder of the online platform Learn with Locals connecting travellers with locals. Creating unique experiences and giving everyone the opportunity to learn something new everyday!
By interviewing Ulla I decided to give you all a little more background and a sneak peak of what Learn with Locals is all about, and how it all started!
What is Learn with Locals all about?
Learn With Locals is an online platform that provides handpicked and unique learning experiences for anyone really, however, I’m trying to target travelers, as I want to help people travel deeper! it’s about connecting talented locals with travelers, you get the opportunity to spend time with a real local and learn something new at the same time.
What inspired you to start Learn with Locals?
The idea was actually shaped over a period of 2 years. I used to be an Airbnb host and people would come in an rent my entire apartment, and I would leave for a few days and sleep on my brothers sofa, but I was always super curious about my guests and I wanted to hang out with them and show them around Copenhagen, so I always came up with excuses to drop by at home, pretending I forgot something, just so I could casually drop by and talk to these interesting people, haha. I guess I needed company myself. But that’s actually then the idea first came up, I remember thinking, what if I could offer something extra besides just accommodation.
I’ve also traveled by myself for the past year and having traveled so much, you start to look for something beyond the tourist path, I was lacking really interesting and unique experiences that allowed me to explore a new destination and at the same time connect with true locals.
When and where did you start?
I coded the website back in April here in Bali when I joined a 10-day coding retreat with www.instituteofcode.com, but I didn’t really start it up seriously until May/June – it took me some time to find the confidence to take it further than just being some code and an idea.
What type of lessons have you organized so far?
First of all, I prefer to call them Experiences rather than lessons or classes, because the idea is that locals don’t have to be certified teachers to teach, but simply share their passion with others. The types of Experiences are ranging from Brush Lettering & Calligraphy and learning to make your own eco-friendly skin care, how to make your own vision board, how to code a website and how to shoot sunrises and edit pictures with Lightroom. I also have different unique experiences in Ubud, a heavy tourist area, you can e.g. learn how to make your own Jamu, learn portrait painting and visit the private studio on a local artist and I also have a cooking class in an architect home with its own organic garden.
What are the locals responses?
So far, the response has been overwhelming, people I’ve met generally think it’s a really good idea and there has been a lot of interest from locals to not only teach and host an experience but to also join one themselves and keep learning and expanding their horizons.
How do you see this project in 10 years time? What are your long-term goals?
The idea is to help inspire people to be more entrepreneurial and to believe in themselves and their passions. To help them find meaning in their lives by learning and teaching others.
I think that we’re moving very much towards a new kind of eco-system where anyone, literally can be their own micro-entrepreneurs working for themselves, while still contributing to a larger purpose and community. Purpose gives you something to live for, some kind of “why” that drives you forward
My goal is to help people create more personal fulfillment among themselves and among others, to nurture creativity and belonging which I believe are some of the main pillars of finding purpose and meaning in life.
Especially also for young people who are about to go out into adult life and decide what they wanna do and who they wanna be, I think it’s important to inspire and help these young people find direction and to learn that finding your purpose is not the same thing as finding that job that makes you happy. That you do not always have to follow a straight path in life and that you can have many different jobs, study many different things and learn from many different people and communities – and it’s this – these transcendent experiences that I am trying to create that might help change and inspire you in some way or another.
I truly believe that if I can just help change one person’s life and this person’s perception of life for them to be more fulfilled and find meaning, then I’m happy – and then the rest will follow.
The more specific long-term goals are to expand into other destinations and to help more people be inspired and promote learning at any age, any place and time.
How did you get to the Secret Spot cafe? And why did you choose to collaborate with them?
So Osh, who is teaching Calligraphy, knows Alex, the owner because he had done a mural there and some work for them and he has gone there to just sit and scribble himself, so Alex told him that he could use his space for an event if he wanted to.
I think he saw it as a great opportunity to gain some publicity and let people know about his place and his amazing products, mostly frozen yogurt, smoothie bowls, vegan cakes and chocolates – oh and of course chicory affogato. Being a new place and us being a new business, it’s a great opportunity to do these collaborations – for both us also.
If you find yourself in Bali I definitely recommend you to join one of these amazing and unique experiences. You don’t only learn a new skill, but you also learn about the locals, their culture, and the community.