Alumni Spotlight: Stately D'Mello


Stately is a year 12 student living in Australia. She loves travelling and helping people. She plans on taking a gap year next year and going on more volunteer trips before coming home and joining the police academy.

Why did you choose this program?

For a long time, I had been wanting to go on a volunteer trip out of Australia, but my parents were worried about sending their 15 year old away on my own. When I was 17, my friend and I were looking at programs to go away on and came across an under 18's program teaching English with GVI. Being a bit older and traveling with a friend, my parents agreed and I am so grateful they did.

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

The people from GVI were really helpful. They organized our accommodation, meals and activities whilst we were in Laos. Communication was good and they gave recommendations on what to pack. They also have their own inexpensive travel insurance. We had to organize flights and visas on our own and ensure we arrived on or before the start date. We were met at the airport.

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

Come with an open mind and be prepared to learn about the culture. Push yourself from your comfort zone and engage in new experiences. Try as many new things as possible and make it your mission to learn as much about the culture as you can. This gives you the best opportunity to ensure you get the most out of your trip. Finally, don't be afraid to make new friends and open up to new people, talk to as many people as you can, especially locals as everyone has a story to tell.

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

An average day for us was waking up around 7 for breakfast; after breakfast, we would either have time to plan our lesson for that day or an activity / adventure planned. After we had done that, we went to lunch at a little restaurant Sabaidee, and after lunch, we changed into our teaching sins and headed to the bright centre for our workshop.

After our lesson, we either had another activity planned or some free time to do as we pleased. We then went back to Sabidee for dinner and then usually had another activity or some more free time before bed. We were kept constantly busy with things to do and see; we had little free time and the days were long, but we were all eager to experience the culture on a deeper level than just as tourists.

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

My biggest fear was travelling on my own without adults telling me what I needed to do. I was worried about having to get a Visa and making it through customs on my own. Luckily, I had my friend with me and it was easier than I thought, and people were very helpful.

I was also worried about making friends on the trip, but my fellow volunteers and I bonded on the first day, and by the time we left, we knew each other's darkest secrets and were solid friends.