“I was no longer a tourist. I was part of the community.”
Recent Global Volunteer Sharolyn Fredrickson returned from her adventure in service with an enthusiastic outlook on international volunteer work after sharing her professional skills in Rarotonga, our host community in the Cook Islands. Sharolyn is a Speech Pathologist for the Northside Independent School District not far from San Antonio, Texas.
My experience in the Cook Islands was incredible. I was paired with a local occupational therapist (OT) who taught me so much about the island and its people during our commutes. I got to use my speech therapy background with various students with special needs. The OT and I even put our heads together to organize a parent workshop during the second week of my stay.
Global Volunteers philosophy of service requires volunteers to work at the invitation and under the direction of the local community partners and one-on-one with the local people. When you embrace this guiding philosophy, you will truly connect with the people you serve and the local community. You will not be just a tourist, and this will be a fulfilling feeling. It didn’t take Sharolyn long to realize this…
Odd things began to happen. I’d be in town or at the weekly market and someone would greet me by name. The OT’s niece personally invited me to her school dance competition. Then it clicked that I was no longer a tourist. I was part of the community. So, did I leave the program with as much a feeling of fulfillment as I anticipated? The answer would be “no”. The feeling of fulfillment was way more than I could have ever anticipated.
This will be an experience I will always remember. I hope to do more trips with Global Volunteers in the future.
We are looking forward to the positive impact you will make as a returning Global Volunteer, Sharolyn. Thank you so very much for sharing your talents in Rarotonga!
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