Why did you pick this program?
I was first informed of this program on campus at my university. It sounded like so much fun and when I looked into it, I really liked how they set everything up and I wanted to do it. I asked a couple of friends but no one wanted to go so I just took a leap of faith and signed up to go by myself. and so happy I did!
What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?
I wish someone would have told me to buy more souvenirs. Haha, I bought some and in the moment I thought I bought a bunch but now that I'm back I wish I have more physical treasures from my trip!
What is the most important thing you learned abroad?
The most important thing I learned about going aboard is just never taking for granted what I have. It sounds cliche but honestly we are so lucky to live in this country. Of course we are not perfect but we have so much more than other countries and a simple flick of a switch or turning a faucet and we have what we need. I want to be happy for everything I have and yes I am striving to be successful and live a comfortable life but I just dont ever want to complain for what I don't have.
What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?
GO! I think everyone in their 20s or just when they are young need to go out and see a different part of the world. Get out of your comfort zone and see how others live, be immersed in a different culture, serve others. You learn so much about their culture, the world, and most importantly about yourself. It's amazing and worth every penny.
What was the hardest part about going abroad?
With a program like this, the hardest part for me was just reminding myself that this is what I signed up for.
Some days were hard, the food is the same all the time, you work hard on project sights, you will miss your family and friends, you will get bug bites, you might feel sick, everything is just different because you are not used to being in that country but you just have to remind yourself that you signed up for this and that you are bettering yourself and helping others. It is what you make it, be positive. Its all a part of the experience.
What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?
I have quite a few but one that I think will stick with me forever is when we were with the children in the education program, we asked them what they would do if they were president.
Being children, we expected their answers to be something along the lines of "unlimited candy" or "all day play" something simple. Instead we were amazed when their answers were "24 hour electricity and water"and "houses for everyone" things like that. It was just so eye opening and heart wrenching that these children ages 6-14 had to worry about things like this. It really puts things in perspective.
What made this experience unique and special?
The whole experience was unique and special. I was so so grateful to be able to go to a different country and live their culture, talk to the people, see how they live, and to help these people who were so deserving of it. It meant so much to me.
Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.
One of they days we were on construction, we were at a home that we had worked on previously but we were working on a different floor. The day before we had put in a concrete floor in front of this family's house. As we were working on the other one we look over and see this little girl laying flat on her tummy on the floor with her face pressed against concrete floor.
It was such a simple small thing but to her I am sure it meant so much. She wasn't on the dirt or the mud, she wasn't getting dirty on that floor, and she just had a place to lay and out her toys and live. I loved it, it meant so much to us.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?
Have a good attitude, their will be things and moments that will be hard for you but in the end its all worth it and your experience will be one you will always cherish. Just be positive and remember why you are there.
What made this trip meaningful to you, or how did this trip change your perceptions or future path?
It was very meaningful to me. I was able to help those children and families in ways they will hopefully never forget. "We do not help others because we are better, we help others because we are the same." Just because we might have things that they dont have does not make us superior to them. We are their to offer a helping hand, a smile, love. Which we should be doing all the time, not just on trips like this.
For ISV, should I do the one week of language and culture immersion program?
YES, my Spanish week was just as good as the two weeks of volunteering! You learn so much and are able to go on a few fun excursions also.