Not too long ago, 24 lucky volunteers landed together at Hanoi airport to surprisingly cold weather.
Our very first step, the drive to our hotel where we were staying for orientation, was a big eye opener. Straight away we could see how this country differs from Australia and other developed countries. For example; the traffic is insane! People constantly honk their horns, which is their way of saying “I’m here!” or “I’m passing you!” It’s really the Vietnamese’s way of traffic courtesy and general safety. At one time you’ll see a whole family on a bike, including at least two to three adults and a baby- It’s quite a charming sight to see.
As soon as Girl Guides was mentioned in one of our teachers’ meetings, I woke from my little bore induced slumber; I literally jumped out of my seat to be a part of it! Having been a Guide myself in Australia for over 10 years, I was so excited to be able to give these girls some of the fabulous experiences that Guides can offer.
Zajac Ranch News roundup, Fall/Winter 2013 Newsletter
What’s a ‘Gapper’ you ask? Customary in many parts of the world, young adults take a year break, or ‘gap-year’, between high school and college/university to disengage from education and/or to work for activities such as travelling, volunteering or working abroad…thus, we fondly refer to our long-stay volunteers who come from afar as ‘Gappers’.
It was almost midnight but I could not settle, despite my exhaustion, I was tossing and turning. A thousand thoughts and memories were racing through my mind and it was really starting to hit me that this was it, in just a few short days my time in Nam Dinh will have come to an end.
I sat up for a bit, dismissing for the moment the thought that at 7am I had to teach and took several deep breaths.As I sat in silent recollection I reflected on my very first week at Le Hong Phong High School. I remember nervously walking out at Monday morning assembly to talk to the students for the first time and being greeted by cheers from 1500 students.
Lattitude’s aim as a youth development charity is to provide young people with opportunities to learn and to develop through volunteering in a new community overseas.
During our 40th anniversary in 2012, 1044 of our former volunteers completed a survey on the impact of their overseas experience:
- 85% believed their volunteering helped them develop skills and gain relevant experience for their subsequent career
- 82% believed their volunteering experience enhanced their employability
- 97% believed the experience developed their own confidence and the same number believed it had a positive impact on their willingness to try new things
- 96% believed their experience enabled them to better understand other cultures.
Student Connect, December 2013
Queensland Studies Authority
The stresses and strains of Year 12 are a million miles away from Zak McDonald’s volunteering experience in Vanuatu.
While Zak’s friends headed to university and TAFE at the start of the year, Zak worked to save money for his international volunteer placement – teaching grades 4, 5 and 6 at Lini Memorial School in North Pentecost, Vanuatu.