Over the Christmas holidays, I was fortunate enough to travel to Kandy, Sri Lanka on my second volunteer aboard program with IVHQ. During my first two-weeks I completed a volunteer placement teaching English and in my last week I did the trekking week add-on which was completely organised and facilitated by the local team. Although the trekking week was full of outdoor activities, beautiful hikes and waterfalls I found the volunteering was the highlight of my experience. I thoroughly enjoyed Teaching English to the local children – it was both a challenging and rewarding experience which taught me a lot about myself and what I am capable of. The local team were very accommodating, and we were given many options and were not just limited to the program we had initially signed up for. Within the teaching program, there were two options available for which we could chose to participate in one or both – a morning session teaching English to Monks and an afternoon session teaching English to the village kids. There was a scheduled lunch break between each session.
I chose to participate in both programs and thoroughly enjoyed the variety of teaching two very different groups. This allowed me to spend more time with my fellow volunteers and helped enrich my experience. I was intimated at first as I had no previous teaching experience but the local team, my fellow volunteers and the children were all very supportive. Although I was the teacher, I learnt a lot from my students – they taught me to be creative with my teaching methods and how we could create a fun and educational environment with little resources. It was refreshing to be in the absence of computers and to rely on talking, drawing, and playing and creating games from sticks, stones and bottle caps found on the ground. My favourite memory was on my last day of teaching I gave one of my students some ribbon from my Christmas wrapping (she loved to tie her hair in ribbons for school). I will never forget the joy on her face and how she hugged me after receiving this gift. It was something so small yet it brought so much happiness. Volunteering here has taught me that I should never underestimate myself, especially my own ability to make a difference no matter how small or simple my actions may seem.
They say travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer and, in this case, it could not be more true. If you have any doubt in your mind about volunteering aboard, erase it and take the leap. You’ll make lifelong friends, create lasting memories and most importantly enrich your own knowledge and life experience.