When I was in Year 11, I was fairly sure that I wanted to go to university after school, but I wasn’t fully sure what I wanted to do when I got there. It can be hard to choose a career path to take with so little experience outside of school. I wanted to take some time after finishing school to go out and do something different. So I decided to take a GAP year.
Going to university is a big step in a young person’s life. Where they go for school and what they study can land them well outside of their comfort zone. What can prepare them to be far from home, away from family and friends, in a new environment, and saddled with new responsibilities? Some students take a summer job or do a bit of travel. What type of opportunity would allow them to use that time to grow more independent, confident, and goal oriented?
In 2012, Chloe Dempsey volunteered on a teaching placement in China and is now a student at the University of Western Australia studying a double degree in law and politics / international relations. She says her experiences in China “completely shaped my university experience and gave me the opportunity to explore a whole other life path that I never would have gone down otherwise.” Since her time with Lattitude, she has received two high-profile scholarships that have opened up many career opportunities for her.
She says that gaining experience working with people in Asian cultures can really make you stand out in the job market. “Now it seems that opportunities just continuously arrive through my Chinese connections. I have been through many interview processes, and received offers from top-tier finance and law firms. I think in those processes what has differentiated me has been my passion for and experience in China. I now feel like there is another world of opportunities for potential careers simply because the nature of China’s reach globally is so all-encompassing.”
She tells us that the location of her Lattitude placement had a big influence over the depth of her cultural experience, “because we were in more remote locations, our experiences were fundamentally different to when you come to China to work or study on exchange, which is almost always in big cities where your immersion level is not necessarily so great.”
Oliver Piccolo signed up for a Lattitude placement in Fiji in 2015 and tells how his volunteer experience “presented the perfect opportunity to mature into a young adult and perfect life skills that helped me immensely with entering university.”
Building resilience and independence is a fantastic benefit to a young person participating in Lattitude programs. “Volunteering overseas in a completely new country with a new culture required me to adapt to new situations and environments I had never been in before. As university was a completely new environment for me I had to adapt, just like in Fiji.” He told us that if he hadn’t done a teaching placement overseas, adjusting to university life, “would not have been as easy as it was.”
Georgia Dearlove has recently returned from her Lattitude placement in Malawi and just started her first semester at Victoria University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in teaching. Beyond just saying that her time as a teacher there was “one of the best experiences I’ve ever had,” Georgia expands on how it has helped her personally and professionally. “I think my confidence levels soared the first day I taught.” She told us that before she left on her placement, she was a “stressor and a perfectionist, with a lot of anxiety.” But on returning from a four month teaching placement in rural Malawi, “I learned how not to stress so much, how to better deal with situations, how to control a classroom, and how to engage kids in subjects that may not necessarily be their favorite.” She says that it’s really opened her eyes to different career opportunities, “It definitely gave me the option that I don’t have to teach in Australia, I can teach anywhere in the world.”
Check out the full interview with Georgia when she stopped by our office to chat about her experience in Malawi.
If you are a Careers Advisor, email: firstname.lastname@example.org to book a returned volunteer to speak with your students about overseas placement opportunities today!
On behalf of our volunteers in Fiji and the communities we work with, thank you for all your support following Cyclone Winston. All 30 Lattitude volunteers in Fiji are safe and well and by now in stable locations with access to supplies. Cyclone Winston made landfall in Fiji on February 20th 2016. As a Category 5 Tropical Cyclone, it is the strongest to hit Fiji on record. Having done an estimated $500 million in damage, many are left without their homes, community centres, and schools. Fijians are strong and resilient but housing has been damaged and destroyed, food and water supplies are low, and Fiji is in need of assistance.
Many of our dedicated volunteers are placed in this beautiful country each year and bring a piece home in their hearts after they leave. With so many returned volunteers having personal connections with the villages and towns affected by the storm, they have created online fundraisers to begin rebuilding their beloved communities. Please see the list below for information about the specific communities they are supporting.
Lattitude volunteers Peirce & Stella talk about their exciting placement at a YWCA camp in Canada. Fun activities like high ropes courses, zip lines and climbing walls are the order of the day with lots of enthusiastic campers!
Kana looks after the Lattitude volunteers on placement as Medical Assistants in Iizuka Hospital in Japan. Our volunteers are greatly appreciated for their assistance within the hospital and in supporting staff with their English skills. And they have the unique chance of attending sports competitions and other events and experiencing life as a local in Japan!
“Madam, what’s that?” a young student asked me, her brown eyes were wide with curiosity. “Oh, it’s paint,” I replied, surprised that something I grew up with in Australia was such a strange concept to her. I knew at that moment that this experience was going to impact me; I just never knew how significant it would be.