Maddi explained why students should take the opportunity to study in another country. Today, Nadira explains why you might also consider volunteering abroad.
Warning: you’re about to get a serious case of wanderlust.
Back in March, 11 of my classmates and I travelled to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico to volunteer at a preschool called Centro Infantil San Pablo. We were excited for the trip, but we didn’t really have a true idea of what was in store for us. The experience ended up being life changing.
We had so much fun with the adorable children we met, but our hearts broke when we learned that these kids’ families lacked basic necessities such as food, water and shelter.
Centro Infantil provides a free, beautiful facility where kids can safely learn and play. We danced and sang with the children, spoke English and Spanish with them, and helped keep the center in good shape by doing projects like painting the walls of the cafeteria. We felt happy because we were making a difference and had a great time doing it.
To learn more about the Centro, click here.
The children perform a play for us. (All photos taken by me.)
The central plaza in San Miguel de Allende.
A beautiful view of nearby city, Guanajuato.
I would highly recommend volunteering abroad to every student. There are so many opportunities to do so at college, from alternative spring break to summer trips to various projects while studying abroad. Anyone can find the perfect trip for them based on their specific interests.
The benefits are endless, but I’ll list the most important ones here.
Learning a new language
The best way to learn a language is to be completely immersed in a place where everyone is speaking it. If you have to use a language, then you’ll learn it.
And even if you decide to volunteer in an English-speaking country, you can always learn more about the culture of the place. By traveling to someplace new, you guarantee that you’ll learn something new.
Meeting new people
At the Centro, we met dedicated and kind teachers. It was wonderful to get to know people who are doing such great work. But even at restaurants, parks, and other public places, we talked to many friendly people and had many interesting discussions.
One of the best parts of the trip was bonding with my fellow classmates, even though they weren’t technically “new” people. As we shared these awesome experiences, we became closer than ever.
Making a difference where it’s needed
It really does feel good to help others, especially if you can see the direct effects of your work. Volunteering gives you a distinct sense of purpose and feeling of pride.
Helps you to realize your privilege
After coming back from the trip, I felt so grateful for all of the resources that I take for granted. For the sweet kids in San Miguel, water doesn’t just endlessly flow from a faucet as it seems to do for us. It’s a scarcity.
Volunteering in a different country helps you to realize your place in the world, and just how lucky you really are.