Published on September 27th, 2016 | by admin
How a Bunch of Kids & a Volunteer Vacation Taught Me Secrets of Life
BY DAVE DRONACHARYA
I can reminisce about each and every moment, very clearly, from my trip last year, while I’m writing this piece. It was my summer break and i had decided to take a volunteer trip to Peru, to work at a local school in Cusco as an English teacher; with three of my friends. Little did I know that this was going to be a life changing experience for me.
The reason behind choosing volunteering in Peru was simple. I have always been intrigued by the intact age-old culture and ethics of this Latin American country, and it was a only through a volunteer trip that I could have explored it in the best way possible. And while there wasn’t any specific reason behind taking up volunteer teaching program as my project abroad, I couldn’t be happier this decision. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.
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During the project, while spending time with a bunch of excited children, I was able to unfold some extraordinary secrets of life that changed my life forever. The sole purpose of writing this piece is to share those secrets with you all; so that you too can get some motivation to take up volunteering abroad.
Traveling is much more than what it’s perceived to be
Traveling is said to be one of the best ways to rejuvenate, learn, and explore. However, there is a lot more to traveling than this; especially when it’s volunteer travel. I mean, if a couple of years back someone would have told me that I could provide input on changing the world, I’d probably have found it crazy. But, after my volunteer trip to Peru, where I worked for the welfare and development of children, it made so much sense to me that, yes, one can actually help in making a difference (if not completely bring about the change) in society.
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Language is not really a barrier in bonding
With 196 countries and a population of close to 7.4 billion, our world is a diverse planet indeed. With many cultures and ethnicities it is only obvious to find as many languages being spoken across the globe. Apparently, it is these languages that many consider to be a barrier when visiting a foreign country and trying to communicate. I used to have the same thought, until I volunteered abroad. During my time with the project I met a lot of people from different countries (of course, including local Peruvians). There were other volunteers, like me, who’d traveled from different corners of the world with the same intension as mine; to help rebuild the society for the unfortunates. Even when it came to bonding and interacting with the natives (kids or adults), I never felt that language was a barrier of any sort. You always figure out what the other person is trying to convey.
The enthusiasm in kids is unimaginable
This was one of the biggest revelations for me during my time at the project. Throughout my flight to Cusco, and the first couple of days in the city before we kick-started the project, I had this thought in my mind that these are poor kids from unfortunate backgrounds, all broken and shattered from what life did to them. To my surprise, these were a bunch of highly excited and passionate children who, very clearly, knew what they wanted to become in life. Yes! These children are vulnerable and emotionally weak, and needs all the love, support, and attention, but the enthusiasm in them to learn about life and grow, was outstanding. It taught me that, no matter how hard the times get, hope and determination is what keeps you going.
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You don’t need millions of dollars to experience the best
One of the key benefits of volunteering abroad is the cost that is attached to it. Volunteer abroad is a highly cost-effective affair, fitting well within a shoestring budget — especially considering the things we get out of it. A major portion of my travel expenses (or for that matter, any traveler’s), i.e., accommodation, meals, local guide, etc., got covered in the program fee I paid to my placement agency. They even took care of my pickup from the airport, orientation session to help understand the local ethics, rules and regulations, and arranged weekend trips for all us volunteers. All I did was pay the fee amount and price for excursions, and got to live like a local Peruvian, with the local Peruvians, understand and immerse in their culture, explore the destination, made friends for life from different parts of the world, and a lot more. Pretty good deal, I’d say.
There’s no good time to travel, it’s the travel that makes the time good
Lastly, when I was done with my volunteer trip and was ready to take my flight back home, I realized that all these years, I’ve been wasting a lot of time contemplating and waiting for the “right time” to travel. What really makes travel good, is the travel itself. There’s no perfect or right time to travel, you just have to decide and make it happen.
Traveling is great, but adding a purpose and a meaning to it escalates its returns several notches. I learned a lot from a bunch of kids while volunteering abroad.
Dronacharya holds a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering. He has handled several different roles in his lifetime so far, but has finally settled as a full time travel writer/blogger. His passion for traveling got him into the habit of writing, which soon turned into a profession. He writes and shares his personal experiences and facts in his articles with only one objective in mind: motivating others as well to travel as much as they can. You can find more of his work on The Huffington Post, SocialEarth, VolunteersMagazine and Cultural Trip.