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GeoVisions Blog

Participant Stories

Volunteer Abroad: Do You Fit In?

Posted by Randy LeGrant | Jul 24, 2012 2:30:00 PM

A GeoVisions volunteer abroad with her host brother and sisterYesterday I wrote a post about "How I See You." I thought I would follow up that post with actual comments from GeoVisions' volunteers in-country right now. I hope you'll read some of them to see if you think you fit in.

After about 3 days from arriving at your project or host family, we send an email asking if you arrived safely, how you're feeling, where you are located and how we can get in touch with you. About 2 weeks later, we ask you to write back in 25 words or less describing your situation.

Most people come to us realizing they have offered to volunteer abroad and that they are not on a tour. It isn't GeoVisions' responsibility to make sure you're enjoying yourself. That's all on you. What we provide at GeoVisions is a project that needs your help (no matter how little or how much) and a place to live along with food and great insurance. What you do on your own is totally up to you.

I'm amazed (only infrequently) how many people expect to be pampered and how many people expect that they are going to go change the world. If you are one of those types of people, don't volunteer abroad with GeoVisions. Please…go bother one of our competitors and make their lives miserable.

To see if you fit in, here are actual comments from our volunteers abroad right now. If you like what you see, you fit in!

All of these comments are coming from the right place. These volunteers aren't writing about themselves and what they had hoped to do or change. The are writing about the experience and what it takes to be of service abroad. They certainly do fit in.

So in 25 words or less (OK...a few don't know how to count) here are some of the "fitters-in" at GeoVisions.

Enjoy!

I would say it is very hard, adjusting, which I am still doing. But worth it to see another part of the world. I have had my good and bad moments but am just waiting till i settle in more and feel more comfortable here. I have barely slept here which is not a good thing at all, and sometimes feel isolated by the language barrier.

My programme, working with two children, 4 and 9, is very hands on and one to one. The whole family are getting involved in helping me with Spanish and practicing sentences in English together. They are a very busy family so there are always things to write and draw about.

It's a great opportunity to get out of your comfort zone and learn about a different culture.

Two volunteers in PeruAn amazing experience, a great way to experience local life in Spain! Great people, fun kids and inspiring culture.

4 hours a day teaching English at the Camp. Challenging, but fun. A lot of free time for fun and travels. Provided with a safety net that feels like family.

I could have not asked for a better family to be paired with. They are all so welcoming and loving; I feel as though I am really a part in their family. This experience has been splendid in every way.

This is very challenging, but it is a challenge worth taking! Although I am spending a lot of time helping the family with their English, I have had plenty of time to explore.

It is an exciting adventure. You are truly surrounded by the culture and learn the life style and customs of the family you work with.

I love it!!! I'm having the time of my life plus I got placed with an amazing family. I can't believe it's almost one month :(

It is a life changing experience. It opens your eyes to the astonishing similarities to be found in every couture and the captivating differences that make each nation, each region and city, unique.

It's been a lot of fun. I've gotten to know a lot of the people in the town I'm staying in and the family really well. I wish I was traveling more but there is still time.

A very different experience, a cultural adventure, language immersion, lots of childcare, lots of opportunities to meet other young foreigners.

It is fun and difficult at the same time. Every day is different. It takes a lot of patience.

Very interesting exchange of culture and language. You will make a lot of new friends.

Everything has been going very well in Jordan. I've been learning a lot. Culture shock wasn't too bad. The main difference is the food, but I acclimated quickly.

Colombia is awesome, food, weather, and people are extremely friendly. The weather has been in the high 70's early 80's. I'm glad I made the switch from Bogota to Quimbaya. I'm surrounded by coffee and banana farms. Have a good day.

teaching in a classroom in ChinaMoscow is such a fascinating city! It's fast-paced, huge, with tons of people and things to see. I'll find myself wandering the city in random directions just because I'm bound to find interesting places. The language barrier can be tricky sometimes, but that is mostly just because I hate to be such a foreigner, I try and fit in as much as possible.

This has been the hardest thing I've ever done. I have grown and learned copiously and feel that I have been changed and strengthened tremendously by this experience.

No matter what part of the world you are from, good people are good people. Despite any of our differing beliefs, my host family and I have found common ground and really care about each other.

A great opportunity to connect with a different culture while giving something back.

I love my experience in Costa Rica. Words cannot even explain how much I have gained from it. I have grown in confidence so much, it has been absolutely amazing. I am forever recommending it to my friends or random people even.

Written by Randy LeGrant

Randy is the Executive Director of the GeoVisions Foundation. He has spent the last 44 years managing organizations that send people abroad on cultural and educational exchanges.

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