“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.
We’re celebrating 25 years of our volunteering partnership with China! Here’s a great overview of our exchange program of international volunteers assisting with English in China, and Chinese volunteers providing invaluable language support in schools around Australia http://www.lattitude.org.au/where-can-i-go/china
The most rewarding aspect of a Fijian placement, was the relationships I formed by fully immersing myself in the village culture. In our community, everyone is your family. Realistically I had dozens of brothers, sisters, cousins, fathers, and even sons and daughters! I didn’t consider myself a visitor or a tourist as they initially tried to make me out to be. I was determined to be seen as a local, “Oi au na kaiviti” I would say; “I am a Fijian”. This mutual respect is an essential component of all social relationships I will encounter in the future.
The dirt under my nails and eternally bare feet suggest that I have been swollen by the exquisite culture of the Vanuatu way of life within a matter of weeks. No amount of descriptive words could paint a picture as beautiful as Aligu, my new home.
James volunteered as an English Teacher in China with Lattitude and gained so many life skills and a clear idea of what’s next for him. Interested in doing the same? Find out more at www.lattitude.org.au/where-can-i-go/china
When people asked me “Why Poland?”, I had no clue what to admit, let alone how to respond to my eager students who posed the same serious question. The exciting prospect of snow, the everyday, delicious devouring of soup (Polish food is like no other, I guarantee you), a colourful language I could barely pronounce? There are so many aspects of such a beautiful culture, language, and country such as Poland. But the real answer was that I wanted adventure; a singularly exciting, challenging experience like no other. And that is exactly what happened.
Becoming a volunteer in a foreign country not only provides a glimpse of an entirely different culture, but opens countless doors of possibilities. And Japan, being known as a popular tourist destination for its unique culture and natural beauty, hides countless wonders as well.