Alumni Spotlight: Greg Potvin


Why did you choose this program?

Have traveled with Global Volunteers (GV) on 10 programs. The fact that Nepal was a new program was enticing because we like the idea of helping establish programs. It also requires a considerable amount of flexibility because one never knows what might happen in the early stages of of developing programs. Nepal has some wonderful history and the scenery is spectacular!

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

GV provides plenty of support as you begin the process of getting ready for the trip, including general country information, basic language usage, cultural information and packing needs/requirements. Once on the ground, GV takes care of in-country transportation, lodging and food, as well as support by a country manager in developing and performing various tasks.

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

We have done so many trips of this nature that there are few surprises, so I don't have anything of note; however, I encourage anyone considering a trip of this nature to go with an open heart and an open mind. You will receive much more than you will give and your life will be truly enriched. Be flexible, live in the moment and remember that you are a guest!

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

All GV programs are different in that each one serves needs that are specific and requested by the host community. Each day starts with a morning meeting, which includes reaffirmation of daily assignments, reading of the daily log and a thought for the day. We worked with English teachers on methods and spent 4 hours with direct contact and other time preparing lessons. Before dinner we met to discuss our day and talk about issues that may have come up.

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

We really had no fears. We get an adrenaline rush from being in environments where we are a minority; we are vulnerable and have to rely on others to make it through. People around the world are all the same and if you let them they will provide amazing service and care. Language can be an issue, but a smile goes along ways.

Any tips for someone considering this program?

The people of Nepal are incredibly sweet and extremely happy. They are proud of their country and want us to have a wonderful time. The mix of Buddhism and Hinduism offer an opportunity to experience religions that are not well known at home. Observe, ask questions and enhance your world literacy.