All throughout year twelve I knew I needed a break from study after I finished, but I didn’t want to do nothing. I wanted to feel like I had done something worthwhile, whilst being able to see the world at the same time.
I had heard about Lattitude before as people in my school had gone through them previously, and the idea of a volunteer gap year really interested me. I started looking at the options available through Lattitude and as soon as I saw outdoor instructor, I knew it was for me. From being involved in scouts from a young age, I have always loved adventurous and outdoor activities, so the idea of being able to give kids the same kind of enjoyment I had experienced was perfect.
Think tongue-twisters are hard? Try saying them in a language that’s not your own! In this cute video, Lattitude volunteer Maddy teaches her English students in China a couple of well known twisters. Interested in doing the same? Find out more at www.lattitude.org.au/where-can-i-go/china
For all of the people that think moving abroad is easy, or is a long-term vacation.. I can say from experience, you couldn’t be more wrong. Moving away from home and working in a new country is so much more than being able to say that you have experienced a new country, or having something to tick off your bucket list. It’s about the experiences that you have, the people that you meet, as well as the new person you become. I have definitely grown so much as a person since being here. People always talk about ‘finding yourself’ or ‘going on a journey to self-discover’ as a reason for travelling, or having a gap year, and as much as I think it’s way too cliché, I can now understand where they are coming from.
GOSNELLS resident Melanie Birch Williams has returned from spending three months with Young People Without Borders, a program that seeks to change ‘gap years’ to ‘start years’.
Organisations including The Smith Family, National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy and Latitude Global Volunteering are aiming to transform the idea of a one year break after high school from a gap to fill to a time full of meaning for a young person, contributing to the world on their own terms for the first time.
Beata with a new group of volunteers on orientation in Poland
What’s your background, and how did you end up at Lattitude? I was born and grew up in Szczecin, North West of Poland situated almost on the border with Germany. After obtaining a master degree in sociology, I moved to Warsaw where I worked for a few large international companies as the Training Manager but I didn’t feel fulfilled in these roles.
I joined Lattitude (called GAP back then) in 2006 and became Program Manager and was thrown in at the deep end as my predecessor and Poland’s local representative left the project as I joined. Despite these obstacles, I knew from the beginning that I’d finally found the occupation that I really love.
Now I am the Country Manager responsible for the overall management of our program in Poland. I am also an animal lover and a few years ago became a pet psychologist.
Michelle in PNG with students celebrating the Clean Generation Campaign
Michelle Bourke volunteered as an English Teacher in India with Lattitude for five months in 2012, which inspired a passion for international development. Unable to sit still, Michelle is now volunteering overseas again in Papua New Guinea and sent us a wonderful update about her experiences.
A school friend recently commented on a photo of me on Facebook: “What are you up to now, you crazy kid?” Well, first it was India, now I’ve packed up and left Australia for six months to volunteer in Papua New Guinea.
This whole idea of coming to a different country started off as a dream! I’ve always loved to travel and wondered what else there is to do around the world. It took me a few weeks to find the best place to be that would allow me to develop my skills and also as a person.
This year I’ve experienced life as a Winnipegger at a Camp Douglas!
“Miss Shakira, Miss Shakira! Are we doing the cup song today? Do we have Remedial English lessons today?” Hearing these enthused and excited little voices each and every day reminds me of blessed I am to be spending every day with them. Each day I wake up and I have to remind myself that I am living in FIJI?! Two months into my placement, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.