After graduating from high school I knew I wanted to take a gap year and do something involved with protecting the environment while also helping people in need and being immersed in different cultures. Though I wasn’t sure how to do this or if I had what it takes to be a volunteer in a different country, I challenged myself to take a risk and get out of my bubble. Looking back now, taking that crucial step was one of the most beneficial choices I could have made.
Pushing outside comfort zone helped me to opened myself up to so much that I never knew I was capable of. During my time in St Vincent I learned about permaculture farming, built gardens and seed nurseries, mobilized people to visit and learn about gardens, and organized beach cleanups with my team. Participating in these actions allowed me to take initiative, improve my organizational and communication skills, and gain experience being a leader.
Though I learned and grew so much just by doing these actions, I also found myself experiencing growth in many other areas of my life. Through connecting with local people I learned about a new culture and new way of life that was much more open minded and supportive than what I had previously experienced in the US. Furthermore, the attitude of most people on the island was very laid back and relaxed. Being in this environment taught me to be more focused on living in and enjoying the present moment rather than being worried about the past or the future.
Overall, I greatly value my time in my program on St Vincent and would encourage others to take on the challenge of becoming a volunteer.