What is one thing you would tell any future volunteer?
Jade: Relax! It’s going to be a great experience. No matter which destination you choose and what activities you would be doing, volunteering abroad will be a truly inspirational and enriching experience.
Yes, you will see things differently and have unforgettable time through which you will learn not only to appreciate your lifestyle at home but, most importantly, the smaller things in life. You will have a firsthand experience of a different culture and will have the opportunity to learn about new ways of thinking but will ultimately realize that we are all humans trying to make the best out of our lives. Expect to meet many incredible people, deal with unfamiliar situations and overcome some challenges. At the end of your journey you will realize how much you have grown!
What’s your favourite story of a volunteer’s experience on your program?
Jade: Reni and Cecilia, who went on an 8-week internship program with V2 lived in a small community in Jamaica and got to know the people there quite well during their stay. A few days before leaving Reni and Cecilia decided to visit their favourite little bar to listen to some reggae. The girls were surprised to see the faces of all of their Jamaican friends who had decided to come and express their gratitude and appreciation for the two volunteers. Avril, the owner of the bar, even exclaimed “I have never seen so many people in my bar!”
Reni and Cecilia shared that it was in this moment that they realized that not only this experience was beneficial for their personal and professional growth, and for the people that they were helping directly through volunteering, but that their presence had brought the community together and had inspired people to help each other in whatever ways they could.
What is the level of cultural immersion your volunteers receive?
Jade: V2 Volunteers work very closely with the communities within which projects take place. They have the opportunity to develop close relationships with locals, with their colleagues or other people involved in the projects.
A friendly attitude and an open mind can provide V2 volunteers the incredible opportunity to immerse themselves in people’s lifestyle and get a truly meaningful insight of a different culture that is rarely offered to regular tourists.
How does your program support sustainable projects within the community?
Jade: We simply ask the community and the organizations that we partner with what their needs are. From there, we assist in developing volunteer roles that seek to address some of the needs or issues raised and then promote these to interested volunteers. This approach allows us to target people who can support and contribute to an on-going or even start-up project that is owned, designed and managed by local agents and communities.
V2 is also always keen to find out what our volunteers can offer - what experience, skills or expertise they can contribute to projects. We collaborate with our partners to decide where our volunteers and their abilities will be most needed and best utilized so that their work can support sustainable local projects effectively and efficiently.