Don’t go with the expectation of what you will get out of the experience. Rather, go with the intent to work, to give to the world, to be a good citizen. Giving of oneself, one’s time and energy, is the most precious gift that we have to give. It is best given without intent of reward.
When you return home, to work, to school, to your everyday life, you will find that the experience has changed you. You may not be able to define that change, but you will stronger, more of yourself.
Each day followed a similar schedule.
After an early morning start and a long day, it was usually lights out by nine pm.
As an introvert and a very private person, I feared that I would be lost in a sea of extroverts. That was not the case at all. Everyone, the other volunteers and the program staff, were all very accepting of all individuals. What is important is one’s dedication to the cause and to the work at hand. This is how one’s personality is expressed and this is what unites people. I learned that there is room for everyone and everyone has a voice. For older people who fear that these programs are for the young only, we had volunteers ranging in age from 18 to 62.
When working with wildlife, it is important to understand that the volunteer programs are about the animals primarily, and our personal experience as a distant second. We are there to help care for the animals, in the most unobtrusive way possible.
Reducing the amount of human/animal contact is extremely important at the sanctuary in Guatemala, as its goal is to release as many animals as possible back to the wild. This means no selfies with wildlife, no eye contact, hand feeding, touching or talking to the animals. The latter is especially important regarding birds such as parrots as their tendency to mimic the human voice can disrupt and even prevent their return to the wild. Added to these rules, is one of my own: no photos through wire cages.
l would like to share with you, World Animal Protection's list of 10 things to avoid when on vacation: