Global Volunteers salutes the incredible Sue Surma, a Global Volunteer and Volunteer Team Leader on 25 service programs since 1989.

CUB1505A1 Sue Surma 2,  right,  teaching conversational English

Sue engages Cuban students in English conversation.

She volunteered on her very first service program in Guatemala. From there she went on to serve as a Global Volunteer in Costa Rica (3 times), Vietnam, Mississippi (3 times), Ecuador, Mexico, Ireland (2 times), India (2 times), Romania, Ukraine, the Cook Islands, Peru, St. Lucia, Cuba (4 times) and West Virginia. Sue has always been there, not only as a Global Volunteer and a Volunteer Team Leader, but in countless other ways – providing us with additional support and help whenever we have been in need.  Her shining face is only a phone call away, and she’s there in a heartbeat.

Sue writes,

When I am asked what Global Volunteers means to me, the answer is easy. Global Volunteers changed my life. From my first program in an isolated village in 1989 in Guatemala, my life has been filled with gratitude for the people and things in my life.

When I had to carry water from a water spigot two blocks from where I was staying, just to lay it in the sun to be able to take a hot shower, I became so grateful that I was able to return home and turn on a faucet and find that it was not only hot but safe to drink.

Sue cuddles an orphaned baby in Romania.

Sue cuddles an orphaned baby in Romania.

I was teaching an English class in a small village near Ho Chi Minh City and a family of one of the students invited me and my team to their two room home. The father went out to the backyard to get coconuts so we would have something to drink while we visited. I learned to be grateful that I had enough, maybe too much, to eat.

Or when I visited a handicapped child’s home in Quito, Ecuador and found eight people living in a cinderblock room the size of my ten by ten bedroom, I realized that I really did not need a bigger home and I was grateful for the small home I owned.

And how about the Global Volunteers service program at a “Failure to Thrive Clinic” in Lasti, Romania, where I took care of a five month old abandoned infant girl who did not even have a name. I often wonder what happened to Inga, the good Swedish Minnesotan name I gave her.  I may not have a lot but I do have a name and a family.

I am thankful to Global Volunteers for showing me all of the things I have to be grateful for. And take it from me, gratitude is absolutely all it’s cracked up to be.

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