The Lessons I Learned while Volunteering Abroad

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Evelyn at Pacheco Evelyn at Pacheco Voluntario Global

It has been a year since I got back to Austin from spending about half of my year in Argentina. To say that my experience at Voluntario Global was amazing is not doing it justice.

The reality is that my experience with Voluntario Global rocked my world and I didn’t ever send my testimonial because I felt like it was too personal and sharing it with everyone would also mean that this particular chapter in my life was closed. However, after being in Texas for a year, I look back regularly and reflect on the lessons learned. Within this journey of self-reflection, I’ve realized I don’t have to tell people about all of the different ways it changed me. Instead, I want to take this opportunity to tell you the lessons I learned.

Importance of cultural differences:

I lived in a place with volunteers from all over the world and being around such a diverse group of people taught me that no way is necessarily the ‘right’ way. It’s about being empathetic and sensitive to the beliefs and customs of a culture. If more people put more weight on this, I can only imagine the strides and bounds we would make as a society. Argentina taught me about pride in one’s community and it sparked in me the joy of being a part of the Latin culture. Moreover, it helped me realize that seeing these differences and accepting them brings us one step closer understanding and respecting our peers.

Your willingness to be open brings new opportunities:

This might seem a little optimistic, however, I still stand by it. I went to Argentina hoping it would help steer me in a direction career-wise. Looking back, I now realize that it was foolish for me to put this much weight on one experience. Granted, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into and although I am neither going to confirm or deny whether or not it helped me with my career; it definitely gave me experiences that shape who I am today. Closing yourself off really does only hinder your own personal growth so I encourage anyone reading this to be willing to put themselves out there.

Help, no matter how small, is appreciated:

Without a doubt in my mind, the group of people that I met in Voluntario Global are the most resilient people I have met to date. They are fighters who taught me that no effort is too small. Because of them, I now make an attempt to help in my city. Whether it’s help at a fundraiser, or donate something (anything) for a good cause, it is worth fighting the good fight and supporting those who need it. No one is ever going to be upset about the help that you offer.

Today, I encourage anyone and everyone to see me as a Voluntario Global success story. Why? Because of them, I now see how big the world is. I had the opportunity to volunteer at the kindergarten, the soup kitchen, and be one of Pacheco’s first volunteers. The only reason I’m mentioning that is because all of the people that I met at these projects had an impact on me that, although it took me about a year to put on paper, is worth telling people about. In the future, I hope to return and try (again) to make a difference.

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VOLUNTARIO GLOBAL

Voluntario Global helps local communities by being available to discuss anything that local organizations need, and offering ideas for further change and development.
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Location: General Pacheco. Buenos Aires. Argentina
Email: jfranco@voluntarioglobal.org

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