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Your Family May Just Need to Volunteer Abroad

family's volunteering abroad experience

On a previous post, Ken, a U.S. and international volunteer, explained why he’s dedicated much of his life to volunteering abroad. His wife Suzanne offers her take on the reasons behind her family’s volunteering abroad experience.

Why do you volunteer abroad?

I think it is really enriching to volunteer abroad. My husband is a geographer so he is excellent at planning.

Why does your family volunteer abroad?

We adopted two children interracially. We have 4 children. They love to travel internationally.  Every time we volunteer abroad they know we will have a good time.

“Volunteering abroad allows my children to see people in other cultures and conditions, how people live and make life choices. They had a lot of questions about that.”

family's volunteering abroad experience

Suzanne with one of the friends she made in Greece as a volunteer.

What is the value of your family’s volunteering abroad experience?

It teaches our children about volunteerism. When we have served abroad with our family and friends, the experience has changed and challenged them. For instance, it affected their views and goals in life, and so one of them became a doctor, another a nurse, and a third works with children as a social worker.

What else can you tell us about volunteering abroad?

The idea of volunteerism is something new to many people, even for the people whom we serve. I remember once a man in whose village we served came to us and told us:

“At first I thought you came to take our jobs. But then I learned that you don’t get pay to work.”

This man had a transformation about how he saw us Americans. He first saw us with distrust but then joined our work group, saw that you could have work without demanding pay, and wrote a poem he performed for the village, telling how he had come to value himself and what he could contribute to his community.  He valued his new friendship and understanding.

family's volunteering abroad experience

Ken and Suzanne with some of the friends they made volunteering abroad in Greece.

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