Ken is one of those people who not only tries to live happily without harming anyone, but actually invests his time helping others. He has helped in his home city of Seattle building houses for low income families, teaching at a school for homeless children, and serving at the Board of his local Girl Scouts association. But Ken hasn’t settled there. He has taken his service to the next level and embraced wonderful life experiences that many people miss on. Ken’s story tells us one more reason why you should volunteer abroad.
It all started in the 60’s for Ken when he and his wife Suzanne tutored children at risk. They then decided to join the Peace Corps and travel to Ghana. As Ken tells us:
“We felt there was even more need in other parts of the world than in our country. Even the poorest people in our country are in a much better situation than lots of people in other countries.”
After the Peace Corps, Ken and Suzanne continued doing volunteer work in the U.S. as they raised their family. But once the children were old enough, they started volunteering internationally again. Ken tells us one of the reasons:
“We have taken tourist trips to Europe and Africa. But they are not nearly as meaningful or rewarding as doing a combination of tourism and volunteering.”
During one of his volunteer trips, Ken and Suzanne met a woman who had served with Global Volunteers and recommended it as a reputable organization. Ken and Suzanne followed her advice and went on a service program to Cuba last year. They are currently serving in Greece and have already booked another service program for Romania in September.
So here comes the big question: why you should volunteer abroad?
“I think one of the main benefits of volunteering abroad is that it builds relationships: within the team you make friends; but most importantly, you make friends with the people from the country where you are serving.”
So for Ken it is not just about the places you see, but also the people you meet, the friends you make, and the fruits of those relationsips:
“It is obvious that we are all interconnected. If we don’t help other countries, if don’t help other people then we are just going to have more international conflict. Volunteering abroad is a way we can participate, make friends, and reduce the chances of conflict.
“When you get to talk and work with the people, they get to know you better, and they get to know Americans and America better.”