I have always wanted to volunteer internationally, however, this desire to volunteer always conflicted with my post-secondary education. I never felt like I had the time to go because my summers were spent working to pay for the following school year.
I graduated with my Bachelor of Social Work; I moved to Grand Manan Island, New Brunswick. There were no social work jobs on the island, so I created my own job and started working a part-time contract job in Charlotte County schools on a self-esteem research project.
After about a year, volunteering abroad was still on my mind, so one day I just jumped into researching different volunteer companies and projects. I got super excited while doing the research and decided that I wasn’t going to make anymore excuses for why I couldn’t go. I was going to sign up that day and pay the initial volunteering fee with IVHQ. I knew if I did this, I wouldn’t back out with excuses.
I wanted to volunteer for many reasons. One of them being, I think it’s extremely important to get out of our comfort zone in order to continue to grow. I also wanted to give back my time, for all the help I had getting to where I was in my life. When you travel, you learn so much about yourself and the world. I knew I would grow so much from this volunteer experience.
Another big reason that I wanted to travel abroad on this trip was because I was struggling myself with what I wanted to do with my career and where I fit in my life now that I was finished school. I had been very confused and frustrated over the last year and hoped that India would have some answers.
When I was doing my research on different projects, the Women’s Education Project spoke to me because I had already been doing that kind of work in my field. I knew that I would be able to bring some of my skills to this project but I would also gain so many that could only help me with my future work.
I didn’t have a lot of expectations going into the trip because I really had no idea what to expect, who I would meet or how the project would go. I would be lying if I said that there weren’t days leading up to the trip that I was nervous about what to expect. But I think there is so much value in the unknown and allowing ourselves to be open to that.
The times in my life where I got comfortable with the unknown and not setting any expectations has been the biggest learnings and life transitions for me. I understand that when we live in the present, we enjoy ourselves more instead of worrying about the fear of the future. I knew going in that the best thing that I could do was be to think positively and that if I stayed positive I would have a great experience. There were people who said very negative things to me about travelling alone and the dangers of going to India. Sometimes this was frustrating but I didn’t allow these comments to make me become too fearful or worried.
My advice for people who may be travelling to a country that is out of their comfort zone is to stay positive, do your research about the country so you feel more comfortable, ask questions to people who may have travelled there or to your volunteer company and get comfortable with not knowing. For the most part, if you take proper precautions travelling is safe, especially if you go with a volunteering company.