One of the greatest aspects of travel is connecting with people and gaining a better understanding of how people in different countries around the world live. I always seem to find that as different as we all may be, essentially we are all the same.
That being said, I’ve always had this overwhelming desire to help people while traveling. Still, I’ve never been entirely sure what help I could offer. I never stayed at a destination very long, and I didn’t see how in my short stay, I could make an impact on someone’s life.
Eventually, I put the idea of volunteering abroad to the side and sought to really make connections to any people I encountered while traveling. Then, I chose to bring back my stories to tell the students in my classes in an effort to open their minds to the world; I began to see this as my way to make an impact. Still, it wasn’t always enough, I wanted to do something more.
I began to support companies that give back to the people where they are located, whether it was by hiring local guides, employing the people of a country in good working conditions, or donating something those people actually needed. But, even this can be difficult because you can’t always be sure where the money is going.
So this summer, I have decided it is time for me to have my first experience volunteering abroad, and I think it’s important for me to be able to understand it first-hand. I know that there are a lot of people who don’t believe in it, but I’m not sure how I feel. Either way, I am willing to give it a shot. The opportunity seemed to find me, and that makes me believe that it’s an experience I am meant to have.
I realize that I can’t change the world by volunteering abroad, but as a teacher, I also know that having an impact on one life can change one person’s world. Two weeks isn’t long enough, and I know I won’t be able to eliminate the world’s problems, but I’d like to think I can help in some way.
In June, and into July, I’ll be heading to India before the Mongol Rally and volunteering with Leave UR Mark in Bangalore. My volunteer program will be a way for me to immerse myself in the culture and city, and I will be working with street children while I am there. For me, this is the perfect opportunity because I have been teaching for seven years, and I’m looking forward to working with kids in a different country, and in an environment other than teaching in the traditional sense.
What I love about Leave UR Mark is that it’s all about helping people from around the world work on developing themselves through their careers, while also supporting local initiatives in Bangalore. The company itself is located in the city, and all volunteer and work opportunities occur in the direct vicinity. One of my favorite aspects is that instead of spending money on brochures or a fancy website, all money goes to help support the volunteers and programs.
India has been very high on my list of places to go for as long as I can remember, and I am so excited to see it this way. I think the experience will be even more special because I’ll really be able to connect with a community and a city for an extended period of time.
I have no idea what volunteering abroad will be like, but I’m looking forward to every step of the experience. I know, it will be vastly different from my traveling experiences so far, but I cannot wait to see what India has in store for me.