Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stephen's Reflections on Volunteering

I can't believe how quickly time has passed since we first arrived in Bolivia.  I´ve learnt so much over the course of my time here, and in this blog I´m going to explain what I´ve gained from volunteering in this amazing, interesting country. 
Stephen with young people in ChildFund
I am working with the ChildFund team, and have been made responsible for our work and research on disabilities, as well as being the lead volunteer in Las Lomas Childrens´centre.  I love working in the centre with co-volunteers Sarah and Inti, and I think the children and the educators are amazing.  I have been doing mainly arts and crafts activities, but recently I also lead my own lesson for 2 hours, doing different fun activities with the children (high five - check me out!). The children are wild at times, but I love every one of them, and find them a real inspiration to work.

I have never been given a opportunity like this back in England, and I love having the chance to develop my leadership and team work skills.  I feel I have really gained independence and confidence (those that know me may won
Stephen and volunteer Emma in traditional dress
der how this is possible!) through this amazing volunteering adventure, and I know it is going to help me dramatically in future employment.  I’ve learnt so much from both the in-country and British volunteers, who are all amazing.  I also love my team leader Sarah, who has supported me throughout my project, and has made me feel more confident and independent in La Paz.  She is so enthusiastic, and has made me want to push myself further, so that I can apply my skills in Bolivia, and develop new ones for my return to the UK.  

To be honest, I never imagined I would be in Bolivia volunteering- It’s been a really big deal for me! I only just turned 18 before I arrived in La Paz, and I really did not have any idea how I would cope being on the other side of the world from my family and friends, living with people I´d never met before, but I LOVE IT !   

Stephen cooking with host family on Isla de La Luna
Before this experience I had never really seen how people in other cultures and parts of the world live, and this experience has really opened my eyes to how much I appreciate the small things, both in Bolivia and back in England.  Since being here I´ve danced and marched in three parades, and even given a shout out to Bolivia on national TV! Learning about the culture, food and the traditions of another way of life it is truly an experience I will take away with me forever. 

Volunteering with International Service has made me want to travel and volunteer more in the future, and I know I’ll going to take the skills I've developed and the things I´ve achieved back with me to the UK.
Written by Stephen Greenall
Edited by Sarah Cassidy

To find out about International Service's ICS projects and stay up to date with our latest activities, please visit our blogs and 'like' our facebook page:
UpClose Bolivia
 Aldeas Infantiles - Entrepreneurial Education Aldeas Infantiles: Strengthening Families International Citizen Service - Bolivia Facebook page

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