Raiden Skala

Raiden is originally from the Niagara Region, and is currently studying Materials Engineering at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Why did you pick this program?

He has always enjoyed volunteering, but has never had the opportunity to travel before. This made the ISV program a great opportunity, as it allowed him to spend time volunteering and travelling throughout parts of southern Africa.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Start travelling as early-on in life as you can, cause life only gets more complicated. Having a full-time job, a partner, kids, mortgage, rent, payments on your student loans, etc. will not make travelling easier. So do it now, that way when you are dealing with all the problems mentioned, you have great memories to look back on and get you through.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Sleep is good and all, but save that for once you've gotten back from your trip! Take every opportunity to get to know, and become friends with, the other people in your program. Although you may be from different states, or even countries, you'll find you have more things in common than you would expect.

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?

Giving a favorite story about the trip is difficult for him, however. Instead he had this to say:

"The whole trip was amazing. Choosing one story is not an option. It depends on the person I'm talking with and what they might find interesting. For instance some people I know are really into animals, so I talk about game drives in the Masebe reserve or in Kruger, or petting elephants. For people who enjoy working with kids, I talk about our lessons and games with children at one of the local schools, and with the children at the orphanage we visited. And for the adrenaline junkies I talk about cliff jumping in Blyde, or surfing in Ponta do Ouro.

This program is so diverse that the best story for you will depend on what you enjoy the most. But for someone like me, who enjoys just about everything, picking one moment will be next to impossible for you."

If there is something I'm really uncomfortable with (i.e. afraid of water or horses) do I have to take part in that activity?

While you will have the best time if you push yourself beyond your comfort zone, if there is something that absolutely terrifies you, you do not have to take part. In fact I did this for one activity, and I ended up really enjoying some time alone just observing the beautiful scenery that Africa has to offer. (Also, you get your money back for not doing the activity.)