active retirement

“A healthy mind in a healthy body” was an ideal first advanced by the ancient Greeks as a prescription for living wisely. Staying active physically and mentally in retirement is mentioned by many of our volunteers as a reason for service. In an online interview, five-time Global Volunteer Elsa Boykin, says volunteering enhances her well-being by re-establishing a sense of identity, purpose and achievement in life – while she explores the world in new and exciting ways.


You’ve served with us in Ecuador and Peru.  How is volunteer travel different from the other travel you’ve done?

I combine travel with volunteering for several reasons. First, I’m making a difference. I’m helping where help is needed. This gives me a sense of purpose, a sense of achievement, something that I’m looking forward to do. Secondly, I’m forming such great relationships, both with the local people and team members, and, it just makes me feel so good. Through service with Global Volunteers, I obtained close friends in Ecuador who asked my husband and I to return for a visit. Thirdly, it helps me have an active retirement, have both a physical and a brain activity, that is really necessary.

“Knowledge not shared is knowledge wasted.”
– Elsa Boykin

Of course, working with the children is the top reason. I love working with them, and there’s always one special one that captures my heart on each program.   

active retirement

Elsa with the rest her teammates of volunteers on site serving in Lima, Peru.

What’s important to you about sharing your life’s knowledge with others on service programs?

It’s important to share life’s knowledge. Because I have lived it, perhaps someone else who is going through something similar can benefit from my experience. Knowledge not shared is knowledge wasted, and, I’m still learning myself from others. The truth is that while volunteering, I receive SO MUCH MORE than I could ever give! And I’m still learning.

You’re scheduled to serve again in Peru.  What keeps you coming back year after year?                                                                 

I continue to serve with Global Volunteers because volunteering has become my passion. My value of travel has matured over the years. I’ve traveled without volunteering to so many places all over the world before, which was wonderful, but, it no longer appeals to me. I feel like something is missing if I don’t volunteer while travelling. When I volunteer, I connect more with the people of the country, I understand them better from a perspective that a common tourist would never do.  By volunteering abroad, I’ve the chance to visit another country and impact it.     

active retirement

Elsa enjoyed the energy and  attention of the children she cared for at a children’s home in Peru.

What advice do you have to other retirees about combining volunteering with travel abroad?    

I do believe volunteer travel has kept me active in my 70s. You always need something to look forward to, that keeps you going, and for sure volunteering helps you build an active retirement. My only regret is that I’m not younger. I just want to keep going back and going back to volunteer.

It’s a shame because when some people retire, they retire, in essence – stop – retire from life. That’s the worst thing anyone can do; it just makes one get older faster. And, doing something positive makes one feel useful and  needed. And the senior population needs to feel they’re needed.   

Volunteering in Retirement Worldwide

Volunteering contributes to Elsa’s happy, productive retirement. Experts say that to obtain good health and well-being during your “golden years,” it’s important to look for opportunities that ignite your passions. Whether you’re newly retired or are in your later years, we have a place for you to apply your interests and life-long skills. Just grab it! We engage people of all ages and from all walks of life on our volunteer programs. Contact us to learn more about our worldwide volunteer opportunities.

“My only regret is that I’m not younger. I just want to keep going back and going back to volunteer.”
– Elsa Boykin

Related posts on this topic:

Are you a Global Volunteers alumnus? Check out our alumni page here!

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