Why did you decide to volunteer with ISV in South Africa?
Deanna: During my first year at university, there was a speaker at one of my lectures who talked about the programs offered through ISV. A year later, I was researching various programs and came across ISV again. I looked more closely at what they offered, the cost, what was included, how the program was set up, etc, and eventually decided that ISV was right for me. It was a decision I definitely do not regret!
What made this experience unique and special?
Deanna: Volunteering with the children of Langa really changed the course of my life. As much as they learned from us and were glad to have us spend time with them, their impact on me has been ineffable. I reflect back on my experiences in South Africa every day and am thankful for what it has given me.
ISV helps you with everything you need throughout the planning of your trip. They provide you with a ton of background information on your project as well as the country you will be working in, they get you in contact with your project leader in order to establish a connection before you leave, and they have a large online community with blogs from past and current participants, not to mention an excellent Facebook page to get in contact with other participants for your trip.
How has this experience impacted your future?
Deanna: The work I did in Langa inspired me to change my academic route. I returned home with a week and a half left before the autumn semester was set to start, but I applied into another faculty anyway and was accepted. I am so happy with my studies and I am extremely grateful to Happy Feet because of it. They really showed me what I care about!
Living in another part of the world also made me realize how fortunate I am. Everyone at home is told how lucky we are to be North American, but it takes a completely different meaning when you experience it first-hand. Upon coming home, I resolved to be less wasteful. I am much more conscious of how I use resources. I walk as much as possible and carpool when I can. I no longer take things for granted.