In the winter of 2014, Deborah Pollard and her two children, Meghan and Aidan, embarked on a volunteer experience of a lifetime to Tanzania. They volunteered for six weeks, providing a variety of different services throughout their program – teaching conversational English and other basic subjects, doing light labor and construction, assisting the health clinic with administrative work, plus more. We asked the Pollard family a few questions about their shared volunteer journey.
Interview with Deborah
What motivated you to volunteer together? Why did you choose Global Volunteers?
“Our path to finding Global Volunteers was full of twists, turns and detours, but we couldn’t have asked for a better outcome. As a high school senior, my daughter had been accepted into the school of her dreams, and was ready to take on freshman year with gusto, but approached me one evening with an intriguing question based upon a conversation we’d had a year before. “Mom, were you serious about the possibility of me taking a gap year?” My immediate response was, “Well, it depends on how you define a gap year.” When she told me she envisioned a gap service year, volunteering in impoverished communities, I couldn’t have been more proud…and excited for her! She did a lot of research into the numerous organizations but didn’t like the focus on “voluntourism”…she wanted to make a real difference in serving others. In providing assistance and ideas as she explored the possibilities, I thought it would be great to join her on some of her service programs.
Meghan had an entire notebook full of notes and reviews from various organizations, and found Global Volunteers to be head and shoulders above the others, in terms of opportunities, volunteer projects, logistics, and the ability for families to participate. The clincher for me was the emphasis on safety, and the fact that so many volunteers keep returning to Global Volunteers year after year!”
How did experiencing this volunteer program together impact your relationship?
“My relationship with my children has always been close, but to be able to experience the Global Volunteers program together brought us to a new level of closeness. We are forever bonded by the shared experience of living, teaching, supporting and learning together in an environment that goes beyond the norm. As a result of our time volunteering together, we shared stories, learning experiences, and challenges that enabled us to connect on a completely different level than we would have experienced otherwise. I am thrilled that they both have such giving spirits, and have a continued desire to have a positive impact on the world.”
What would you say to other parents who may be considering this opportunity for their children?
“Regardless of which service program you choose, Global Volunteers provides a priceless experience. It will be incredible, eye-opening, heart-wrenching, meaningful, and moving, whether for yourself, your child, or your family. An ability to connect with other people in such a unique environment will lead to further growth, compassion, and understanding…a trans-formative experience. As a result of our positive experience, I envision a long-term relationship with Global Volunteers and look forward to supporting many more service projects throughout the world. Would love to go to South America on our next adventure!”
Interview with Meghan and Aidan
Describe your favorite memory while volunteering with your mom.
Meghan: “I absolutely loved spending the evenings sitting around the fireplace, just sharing our stories from the day. We both experienced such different things, yet we were so connected. Whether it was a funny comment from one of the students, a challenge I faced in the classroom, how it felt to watch the students succeed, the beauty of the sunrise, or a new bug she encountered on the walk to school, we would laugh, talk, and share every night without fail!”
Did you learn anything new about your mom or your relationship with her?
Meghan: “I was able to see what a giving heart my mom has, from the outside looking in. I’ve always known that she was loving, caring, and compassionate, but seeing her give service to this community day in and day out was inspiring! Her patience and persistence in teaching the kindergartners and her joy in seeing them succeed made me conscious of how lucky I am to have her.”
Aidan: “My relationship with my mom grew closer and I learned a lot about how she looks at the world. I like being able to help other people and learn about new cultures and languages. I told her I want her to go on a gap service year with me after I graduate from high school.”
After experiencing this volunteer program together, would you do it again? If so, where would you go?!
Meghan: “I’m headed to serve in Poland…leaving tomorrow! I’m excited to experience a new culture, serve the community, and be a Global Volunteer!”
Aidan: “I want to go to Poland and volunteer like my sister is doing this year.”
To learn about how you can volunteer in Tanzania with Global Volunteers, click HERE.