Global Volunteers Volunteer Team Leader Cindy Murray says her experiences serving and leading teams have produced her best memories. After her first Global Volunteers service program in 1997 in Mississippi, she trained to become a Volunteer Team Leader and has led teams in Florida, Minnesota, Montana, West Virginia, Cuba, Costa Rica, and Poland. She’s a professional photographer, and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theater and Drama and a dual Master’s Degree in Human Resources and Development.
How did you first hear about Global Volunteers, and what impressed you?
Back in 1997, I saw a little blurb in the Orlando Sentinel newspaper. A guest speaker was presenting at the Orlando Public Library, a topic about volunteering and travel – two topics I love – and I signed up and attended a session by Bud Philbrook, one of the co-founders of Global Volunteers. They co-founders are pretty amazing people.”
I learned about how when Global Volunteers goes into communities, they work at the direction of the local community. That was very appealing to me. One of the other things that I really like about the organization is that it’s not aligned with any particular religion – it’s open to anyone who has that passion for service.
What advice would you give to someone who may be considering volunteering on a program?
I would say, take a chance. Take a chance on getting out of your comfort zone. Getting into a community that maybe you’ve never been to before, maybe a country that you’ve had a desire to visit. But take a chance on experiencing it from a different vantage point than a tourist or a regular visitor. Get yourself immersed in a community.
“Take a chance on getting out of your comfort zone.
Take a chance on experiencing it from a different vantage point than a tourist or a regular visitor. Get yourself immersed in a community.”
How many times have you served with Global Volunteers?
I’ve served on more than 20 programs with Global Volunteers, ranging from south Florida where we worked with migrant workers to southwestern Minnesota where we worked alongside meat packers from countries all over the world.
How is a Global Volunteer received in the community in which they volunteer?
As a Global Volunteer, we are very fortunate because the Global Volunteers organization has built relationships with local communities long before I show up as a volunteer. So when you do show up, you’re a link in a long chain of volunteers. We’re well received, we’re recognized as Global Volunteers, the people in those local communities are warm and welcoming and we, in a small way, become part of a family and a community, in a short amount of time. For people considering Global Volunteers, take the chance. Do it. Step away from routine. Unplug, as we might say. Allow yourself to connect with real people in real time, away from computers, away from laptops. And just enjoy being human with other people.
“Global Volunteers has built relationships with local communities long before I show up as a volunteer. The people in those local communities are warm and welcoming and we, in a small way, become part of a family and a community, in a short amount of time.”
Do you feel like you are doing some good?
Absolutely. The Global Volunteers experiences are about connecting with people, which is so important in our current world. Connecting, laughing. Sometimes we don’t even speak the same language, but through music, singing, laughter, you find common bonds. The Global Volunteers experiences are about connecting with people, which is so important in our current world. I have had the privilege of having some fantastic teams. I’ve had some wonderful teams out on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. We volunteer out there in the summers and thus, we often get families because children are out of school typically. So we get the dynamic of grandmothers with grandchildren coming to volunteer alongside grandmothers with grandchildren from the Indian reservation. Great mixes of people. I love seeing children on these programs. That’s the time to instill this experience and these values of sharing and connecting with other people.