Allyson Olson said her service program in Romania made such an impact on her that she inevitably decided to complete her Master’s Degree in Child Development/Child life. It was the opportunity to truly make a difference, she said, that clarified her career choices.
“It was time for me to stop being a bystander in my own life.”
Allyson said she’d become complacent about finishing her graduate degree. But, she had a passion to help children. So, it wasn’t a difficult decision to join a service program in Barlad, Romania. “Before going on this trip, ‘service work’ was important to me but, I’d always had a hard time figuring out exactly how, or if I was making a difference. Yet in Romania, I could see and feel how our presence made a difference to the children.”
She said she worked in the Placement Center at the Municipal hospital “Elena Beldiman” with children with physical or cognitive disabilities. “A few of us also had the chance to design, and paint two murals in the children’s ward,” she explained. “We lit up the children’s lives, and provided opportunities they otherwise would not have had. All the children stole my heart, she continued, “but I created a special bond with little Maria. Just looking into her eyes, I saw so much determination and will, she was so inspiring. Working with the same children every day gave me the chance to interact and grow closer to each of them, yet the love and relationship I formed with Maria will be one I will forever hold in my heart.”
I could write a book on the relationships I formed.
“I traveled solo, so all the members of my team were new to me. Yet from day one, they welcomed me with open arms and became my second family, watching over me, making sure I was safe. They provided love, laughter, and a friendly ear when I needed it the most. Throughout the two weeks, I had the opportunity to learn more about these 12 wonderful souls. They taught me how to work effectively with a diverse group of people and helped me learn things about myself I didn’t know before. They offered incredible support helping me re-arrange my travel plans when a family emergency cut my program short, and provided a shoulder to cry on. I’m extremely blessed to have formed these new lifelong friendships!”
“We lit up these children’s lives and provided opportunities, they otherwise would not have had.”
“Finally, our team leaders Mihaela and Dan took great care of us. They not only made sure we were where we were supposed to be at the right time, but also were sincerely interested in learning about each of us as individuals. They took pride in showing us their culture while also learning about ours too, and that was really an incredible experience!
Working with the children changed my life.
“I would say this trip most definitely was nothing like I was expecting it to be, yet honestly, I am happy about that,” Allyson declares. She said she has a new appreciation for the ease of her life. “I appreciate the amenities many of us take for granted – such as medical care and education. It also confirmed that I ‘d like to continue to work and develop my own understanding of ways in which we can provide better care for children – those who are disabled and those in placement centers. Since returning home, I’ve decided to complete my Master’s Degree in Child Development and Child Life, with the hope to improve the educational needs of children with life-threatening diseases and disabilities.
My wish is to continue to spread peace worldwide.
“I had many people ask me after I returned home if I was scared in Romania, and how the program went. My reply? ‘You have to experience it to understand it.’ I think if more people just take five minutes to learn about Global Volunteers, and invest in a service program, we could spread peace rapidly. Many people around the world are completely uneducated as to how the other half lives, and it’s due to this we have an egocentric mindset, which doesn’t solve the problems. If people took the time to listen, to learn, to experience and to understand other cultures, I believe there is a chance for world peace!”
(photo credits Allyson Olsen)