Alumni Spotlight: Julia Greer McGrath

Julia is a mother of three currently living in North Carolina. She enjoys international service travel as a means to give back, grow individually, and learn about other cultures.

Why did you choose this program?

I have completed service projects with other organizations, and I wanted to try another one that I thought might also be good for my children to join at some point. I chose Guatemala because I have always wanted to go there and it was close.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

An average day involves self-transport to the office or place of volunteerism. Then you will volunteer for part of the day and have the remainder of the time to sightsee or take language or other cultural lessons.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

Since I am an experienced traveler, I was not particularly fearful. I was perhaps a little concerned that I had not spent enough time reviewing Spanish vocabulary. I was able to practice every day and soon realized that as long as I was making an attempt, it would be fine.

Is there a particular age group this organization is best suited for?

Maybe so. Nearly all the volunteers were college-aged students and most were venturing to a foreign country for the first time. I am in my 40's and was certainly the oldest volunteer. In terms of having certain things in common, eg. goals and schedules (like staying out late), the college students have more in common.

However, they treated me as though I was just one of the group and I was independent enough that it was okay. Other organizations may have more families or older volunteers with whom I have had more stage of life issues in common, but I had a wonderful time.