Why did you pick this program?
I chose this program because I always wanted to go to India and they had a specific program that suited my interests. I wanted to work with kids and feel like I was doing worthwhile volunteering, so when I saw that there was a program to teach kids in the slums of India, I knew that's what I wanted to do!
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
Volunteering abroad was one of the best decisions I have made. I had never been out of the country prior to my trip so I didn't know quite what to expect, but it was such an incredible experience! Traveling abroad allows you to have such diverse experiences and really push yourself out of your comfort zone. You meet so many incredible people and your opinion and view change about the world! It really is an indescribable experience!
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
The program I did was SO fun, but also challenging! Teaching kids who barely know any English is bound to be a struggle but the amazing thing is, the kids are just so happy you're there! My advice is to forget about trying to teach them everything and to just have fun with them. Sometimes all anyone ever needs is a little love and those kids are so grateful for any attention you give them. Just love them and you will have the BEST time! I think traveling abroad is such an excellent idea. I found that it wasn't easy all the time but that made it so much more memorable! I made so many friends and experienced more than I ever thought possible! You will definitely regret not going abroad, especially when you go with an open mind and heart!
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
I had so many wonderful experiences I can't pick one! There are two experiences that I would like to share:
The first was with the kids outside of school. A couple times a week we went to a dirt field about 10 minutes away from the school to play cricket. I had no idea how to play and so the kids told me where to be and what to do and only laughed a little when I did something wrong. I love thinking back on these memories and seeing the kids out of the classroom having fun!
The second happened when I was by myself and might seem a little strange, but one of my favorite experiences was getting lost! Since I had never been out of the country I wasn't feeling very comfortable going anywhere alone. Towards the end of my trip I wanted to see a religious site in Delhi but no one else wanted to, so I decided to go by myself. I was able to get to the general direction but after getting there I had no idea where to go! I had to stop and ask for directions about 20 times before finally being able to find it. Why I like that memory so much though is because of the kindness I was shown. Every person I asked was friendly and willing to help even if they didn't know where it was. I also realized that I could do more than what I thought I was capable of. On my way home I thought that if I can navigate Delhi by myself, I can make it anywhere! That experience showed me how going abroad helped me to grow and realize more about myself!