Thursday, 31 May 2012

6 Reasons Why Everyone Should Volunteer Abroad in Their Lifetime

1- It puts everything else into perspective

How many times do we act as though something that has happened will end the world? The supermarket running out of your favourite food, the queue at the bank being really long - you name it, we all act like these things are the worst thing that could happen. On my first every day visiting Valea Rece in Romania, I saw things I never thought I would see in Europe; houses without proper roofs/walls, children walking around (on glass) without shoes, babies with no clothes on laying in the mud, rubbish everywhere and children no older than 5 begging on the street. It’s then that you start to realize how good I have things here. Yes, we all know poverty exists, but for me it was only when I saw it first hand that it really put my life into perspective and realized how lucky I was.

2- You’ll experience some of your proudest moments

Okay, so I might have felt proud when I scored a winning goal for my football team, or when I achieved my targets at work and I’m sure I’ll have a huge grin on my face when I graduate, but I will never ever forget the look on the Romanian kids faces when we gave them clothes for the winter! There is genuinely nothing else that I could feel more proud about than when we give clothes/toys/sweets to some of the poorest children in Europe.

The kids waiting to get clothed. We gave to 316 this year :-)

3- Improve your employability

I’ll admit when I signed up to volunteer in Romania with Leeds Met in 2008, I wanted to do something different to put on my CV. I guess, I’m a bit ashamed of that now (see number 1 and 2) but I’d like to think it’s made me much more employable. I’ve worked from when I was 16 so my CV has never been bare but it was my experience in Romania that gets employers interested. Every single interview I’ve attended have asked me about Romania and the feedback from these interviews was that no-one else had that kind of experience (I didn’t get the jobs for other reasons… but that’s another story!)

My current employers loved my volunteering experience and I think you’ve got to do everything extra you can these days to stand out and international volunteering ticks all the boxes!

4 - Make friends for life

I never thought I would make some many friends from volunteering, but I really have made some friends for life (cheesy I know!). I met some of my best friends from Romania in 2008 and we’re still great friends now. The one thing you’ll have in common with them is your experience. While your other friends dread you saying “This one time in Romania….”, you’ll always have your experiences to talk about with your volunteering friends.

Some of my Romanian besties :-)

5- Experience new things

Everyone experiences something different, I’ve been to Romania 7 times and every time my experience has been completely different. I love that volunteering is so unpredictable, one time I went to Romania we sung and danced to Greece Lightning at 3am with the locals. Another time we had a singsong sat with 65 kids sat around a bonfire. One of my favourite memories of Romania (am I saying the R word too much?!) was the night when we were followed by a creepy man on a bike (it was okay in the end), we stayed on mattresses on the floor in a nursery and had two of the lads from the village as our body guards (in case said creepy bike man appeared). It was the first night of us getting there, but turned out to be the best icebreaker we could have.

The night of the bike man

6- It’s a life changing experience

It really is a life changing experience, I never thought volunteering would have this much impact on my life. But it’s something I can never stop thinking about. I spend a lot of my time collecting clothes and doing fundraising events. It’s not just the charity side of it’s that’s made it a life changing experience though, it’s also helped develop me as a person. Four years ago I had hardly any confidence and hadn’t done anything like this before. It sounds stupid, but for me it was a big deal and I did almost wimp out! I always remember the look of fear on my mums face when I got on the coach with 11 strangers! She sent me a text 10 minutes later saying ‘are you going to be okay’. Well, I was okay thanks mum!

My boys :-)

One of my favourite Romania pics

Point of this long article?! - Do it!  

No comments:

Post a Comment