My experience had its ups and down. The positive parts of this experience involve getting to know volunteers as good friends, meeting people from around the world, and learning new things about yourself through being in a complex environment. The downsides include possible bad roommates, bugs, and heatstroke.
Basically what happens is that the volunteers become good friends with you, almost to the point where you can bond with some of them as if you were family if you luck out and you both are there for similar amount of time. That doesn’t mean that everyone will get along with you, and like any other place out there in the world, there is the possibility of bad roommates. For me, it was just the age difference that showed maturity gaps because I was on average at least 6 years older than the other women in the house I was staying in. If I had been there longer with them in the room, I would’ve requested a room switch, but the universe made it so that I was in a room by myself for most of my trip. I had forgotten that I’m not 18 anymore when I applied for the project, and I think being aware of this stuff is something that is crucial for someone if they are to stay there for a month, for instance.
Depending on where you get placed (work wise), you can get to know the refugees quite well. I enjoyed this part the most because I got to dance with them, eat with them, meet women who spoke 7 languages fluently, and experience many other things. As a woman, I was encouraged heavily right off the bat to work with mostly children in daycare, and I knew right away that it would not be a good fit for me. The people who work in the project are very accommodating and are eager to help you make the most of your experience. Realizing I couldn’t work with the children too much for a number of reasons (attachment being the main reason), I found myself much happier with the adult refugees and when I worked within the library. You become very attached to people in this tiny town because you are around them all the time, and when I got heatstroke, I felt very cared for by everyone despite going through the very un-fun experience of getting sick in a foreign country. There’s also the bugs, which can be beaten with bug spray on at all times. The times I forgot, I regretted it deeply. I came home with around 20 bug bites due to forgetting to put on bug spray for 2 hours on my last day there.
Nevertheless, you really get to experience a community like no other when you go on this trip, and while it isn’t perfect, and by no means a vacation, you leave with memories that make you wonder when you’ll visit again to see how much the town has changed in a couple of years.