IVHQ’s Teach and Volunteer Abroad Scholarship recipient, Taylor Franks, will be documenting her journey as a volunteer Teacher in Bali. This week she shares how volunteering in Madagascar inspired her and why she thinks volunteering is such an important experience.
Last August, I found myself dismally watching the Malagasy island of Nosy Komba disappear into the horizon as I set forth on my long journey back home. It was on this island that I spent over four weeks researching various reptile, lemur and bird species while learning and living the Malagasy life. Prior to this experience, I had yet to live in a community that was far different than my own. Surrounded by natural beauty and tasked with a unique research job, I often found myself asking the question: How did I get myself here?
Our lives are made up of a series of choices. As if roads on a map, we are constantly forced to make decisions for ourselves, whether big or small, that ultimately lead us in another direction or down a different road. Although we may have our sights set in a particular direction, or a goal in mind, we will always come to intersections that require us to make a choice in which way to turn next. I see these choices, these possible detours - as opportunities, and believe that it is not the direction we choose to go but the choices we make in these moments that ultimately define our lives.
Traveling is a way in which I’ve found numerous outlets to test and learn about myself. It sometimes takes a breath of bravery to make the decision to leave a comfort zone; however, the knowledge that you will derive from these detours will be beyond anything you can imagine. Volunteering gave me, and continues to give me, a possibility to share connections with people and places around the world. It is a way to integrate into a community far different from your own, and to share and learn skills from those around you. It is a thirst for understanding, a desire to explore, and an ability to see through others eyes that make our footsteps just a little more meaningful.
My time as an IVHQ volunteer in Madagascar reinforced the importance of this lesson within me. I was able to connect and live with other volunteers from around the world whom shared a similar outlook, and learned the skills and qualities they brought. I’ve come to find the unique opportunities that arise in situations where there is collaboration and understanding, and I’ve learned to continue to share my own experiences with those I meet along my way. I feel very lucky to have found another enlightening opportunity to travel and volunteer, and eagerly await the experiences that follow.
If you are ready to follow in Taylor’s next journey then check out IVHQ’s range of project opportunities in Bali here and keep an eye on social media to keep up with Taylor’s experience abroad.