I’ve always loved travelling and being in the outdoors, so volunteering as an outdoor activities instructor in Canada seemed like a great idea.
Travelling to a new country, to a camp where you know no one before you arrive is a scary thought, but one that I looked forward to. Truthfully there was nothing to be worried about, the people that I work with are amazing and throughout our first week of training, we became close friends. Our current 12 staff members come from five different countries which is incredible, making it crazy to imagine where in the world the 180 staff in summer will be from.
I think one of the most important lessons I have learned whilst volunteering in the Golden Age Home is to appreciate the small things in life. The residents here are so grateful for everything. A sunny day, a second hand sulu, some $2 earrings from Bargain Box; it is all so precious to them. It has really forced me to soak up all of the beauty I see every second of everyday.
Tropical Cyclone Pam tore through Vanuatu as a Category 5 cyclone on 13 March, 2015. It is estimated that 70% of the population has been affected. Cyclone Pam is considered to be the worst natural disaster the country has ever seen.
19 Lattitude volunteer teachers on Ambae and Pentecost Islands were caught up in the cyclone but all are safe and well. We are grateful for the support of DFAT and local agencies for their assistance in relocating all our volunteers to Port Vila last week.
Significant aid efforts are now underway to assist Vanuatu with disaster relief and humanitarian support. ABC Appeals has compiled a list of aid agencies that are gratefully receiving donations to assist Vanuatu. To help the current relief efforts, contact any of these agencies and pledge your support.
Lattitude volunteers have a deep connection with their host families and villages in Vanuatu, and are also fundraising to assist in a more localised way. To help with any of these wonderful initiatives, click the links to their fundraising pages:
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
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.
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.