Many students during their senior year of college think to themselves, “holy crap, I am about to enter the real world and now I have to look for a crappy job” when graduation is approaching and let me tell you, during my senior year, all I thought was “when is the last time I crossed out something on my bucket list?” I immediately knew I had to cross out one after dealing with 4 long years of school. So, I decided to volunteer somewhere around the world to learn more about myself and more importantly, the less fortunate – but didn’t realize I signed up for a life-changing experience until I saw myself changing and evolving into the person I am today.
1. I started to appreciate the little things in life when I first walked into my project’s neighborhood.
In complete awe, I stopped and thought to myself –“holy crap.” Garbage and dirty clothes were piled up on the side of the streets and people’s houses weren’t houses, they were shacks. Not only did these poor neighborhoods shocked me, but my kids were undeniably filled with joy and energy that I have never seen before. They carried such amazing presence in a little school that had little to play with. Sheesh, they were happy playing with sticks and it weakened my knees to realize that little things MATTERED. Only pure happiness mattered.
2. New friendships with people from all over the world were made and those relationships are the absolute best.
Meeting people from Canada, Switzerland, and even Puerto Rico was another highlight of my experience. It only took 2 weeks for a bunch of strangers to help me evolve and become a completely different person. From learning different languages to listening different experiences in other countries – it had given me an open mind and amazing friendships that will forever be cherished.
3. I learned different cultures and languages.
Like speaking Xhosa (the clicks Africans use) or learning the historical landmarks where Nelson Mandela changed the course of history forever. Having the opportunity to learn and indulge in a new culture was another way this experience has shaped my character and my perspective of the world. Here’s a clip of one of my kids showing me how to dance – the South African way.