“I have a very different view of Americans now”

Help build bridges and volunteer abroad

What impact do you hope to make on the world? When you contribute your energy and knowledge on a Global Volunteers team, your efforts become part of a community’s story – through assisting the local people in projects that define their future. You become a valuable link in a chain of volunteers committed to helping others achieve their development goals. You help build bridges between countries. Are you up for this kind of impact? 17-time Global Volunteer Sue definitely is. Continue reading for Sue’s in-the-field report from the Cook Islands about the impact she’s made around the world through her service. 

I was a little early on the way to work this morning, so I stopped alongside the road to enjoy the view. Who could resist! But this is not why I am here (though it certainly helps).

Help build bridges and volunteer in the Cook Islands

It’s the people. I continue to do Global Volunteers trips because of the people. Not just the ones who are on the team (although it is wonderful to meet so many like-minded folks). It’s everyone in every country. No matter where I am in the world, I have learned that we are more alike than different. Every 10 year old boy likes to kick a ball around. There’s nothing like working with people, getting to know them. The pace is much slower than we are used to in the US, so conversations about all sorts of things are possible.

When I  take the time to talk to people it broadens my world view and my thinking. It makes it clear that there are endless ways to view and do things; as many ways as there are people. One small example of this happened during a painting project in Tanzania. I started to ask for a drop cloth but realized how silly that sounded before I said it. So I asked how to keep the floor clean. After a brief conversation between themselves, they started picking up dirt and throwing it on the floor… to be swept up when finished. Brilliant! The other benefit was being able to write words in the dirt as we each tried to learn each other’s languages.

Help build bridges and volunteer in Tanzania

On one of my earlier trips, I had a local leader say to me, after I asked what turned out to be a rather silly question, you have no idea how everything the US does affects the rest of the world. She was right, I didn’t. It also told me how important what I do as a visitor in other countries is for how others view the US. My very favorite comment was from a woman in Portugal. At the close of our two weeks she said…

“I have a very different view of Americans now.”

So it’s not the work or that incredible ocean view, it’s getting to know the local people, the culture, the art, the food….. tasting the way the Greeks create a salad, the taste of goat cheeks (yes, that’s cheeks) in Portugal, dancing with a Cuban in Cuba, learning to open a coconut in the Cook Islands, learning to make an Irish coffee from an Irishman, learning how to cross the street in Hanoi, learning how to make an “island” ceviche with coconut cream, learning to weave a  basket with palm fronds with a St Lucian, etc… As you can see the list of reasons is endless.

What better way to learn about the joy of diversity than to be immersed in a very different environment!

Photos from volunteering around the world:

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Help build bridges!

Be part of something bigger in this world and help build bridges between countries by serving others. Volunteer abroad in one of our 17 volunteer locations – as a family, group, individual or couple. Our community partners welcome you as family! Chat online with a Volunteer Coordinator to get started.

Chat online to help build bridges in our world

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