Alumni Spotlight: Randy Forbes

Randy recently took a volunteer trip to El Paredon, Guatemala with Surf For Life. He is a Director of Software Engineering for Salesforce, located in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is married and has three children who are very active in school and sports. In his free time, he enjoys catching up on his favorite sports teams and playing guitar.

Meet Randy!

Why did you pick this program?

Randy: I first learned about Surf For Life through their partnership with Salesforce at a local lunch and learn. I was able to hear about how Surf For Life started, how they had grown over time and how they were continually improving. Every question that anyone had, Surf For Life took the time to ensure that question was answered fully to the satisfaction of the individual asking. They talked at length about about the impact of their projects and especially the safety of their volunteers.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Randy: To go and do what you’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to go to another country, be immersed in, and learn about their culture. It’s one thing to go as a tourist and see the sites of another country, but it’s entirely different when you live and work with the people of the community where you volunteer. It’s a unique experience unlike any other.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

building the new school in El Paredon, Guatemala

Randy: Do it. There’s nothing like leaving your country to go live and work in another. It’s a bit scary because you’re not really sure what to expect, but it’s so worth it. You gain confidence in yourself by stepping out of your comfort zone. Additionally, there’s nothing like sharing the culture of the people who you work with in the community. You can always go as a tourist, but when you volunteer you are treated as a member of the community.

What was the hardest part about going abroad?

Randy: Planning on what to take. Surf For Life has done an excellent job of preparing their volunteers for everything. Myself, and all of the people who I was traveling with, joked that we could open our own pharmacy. You just don’t know what to expect and so you plan for everything. At the end of the day though, you can only plan so much and the rest you just take it as it comes.

reading books

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

Randy: I barely speak Spanish and very few people within the community where I was volunteering spoke English. With only having volunteered one week, I was doing a decent job of picking up the language. That being said though, the locals would certainly laugh at my feeble attempts to correctly pronounce words as well as getting the grammar right. It made for some really good laughs.

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

Randy: Surf For Life is an organization you can really trust. They want your experience to not only be meaningful to the community where you are volunteering but meaningful to you. They are a safety first organization, they listen to you, they plan out everything, they work with you, they’re prepared and they’re flexible.