Home Country: United States
Why should you be the IVHQ volunteer of the year?
I join IVHQ in 2013 as a college Junior to venture on my first foreign adventure to Sri Lanka. After having an amazing experience teaching English, I volunteered again in Guatemala and the Philippines with IVHQ.
In Sri Lanka, I volunteered at First Friends Preschool and St. Francis Boys’ Home for one month. I was able to work with some of the most dedicated and hardworking teachers that I have ever seen. We taught the children exercises, songs and foreign languages in which they thoroughly enjoyed.
In Guatemala, I volunteered at two orphanages, Casa Para Ninos Aleluya, a program that helps abandoned children and Rosa Del Amor, an organization that rehabilitates children that have been victims of sexual abuse. During my two weeks there, I learned the generosity and kindness of the human spirit. Volunteers from across the world donated their time and money to help these children succeed. I spent countless hours at both orphanages mentoring, helping and playing with these amazing children.
In the Philippines, I had the privilege to teach very talented and energetic students. The children of St. Francis College of Davao had a passion to learn and kind hearts. Throughout my time as a volunteer with, I have met some of the best people the world has to offer. Each of the volunteers willingly sacrificed their personal time to help others in need.
For me, having the opportunity to meet the program coordinators, fellow volunteers, students and people of the international community is a triumph in itself. To become the 2015 IVHQ Volunteer of the Year would mean that I would represent the best of what this program has to offer and be an example for future volunteers. I believe that I should be the IVHQ volunteer of the year because I wholeheartedly believe that I can make a difference in people’s lives through my compassionate and humanitarian spirit. I want to be the face of IVHQ and an ambassador to our international community.
What motivated you to get involved with volunteering?
As a second grade student, I was taught a quote by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi that is still engraved in my head today. It reads, “You must be the change that you want to see in the world.” I grew up with a hardworking single mother who cared truly for my five older siblings and I. My mother taught me the basic principles that anything is possible through hard work and dedication and to treat people as if you want to be treated. As I child, I witness poverty first hand in my community but I saw the kindheartedness of our churches, schools and friends. I remember having a tingling feeling of happiness every time someone was unnecessarily generous to me or my family. Since then, I have always wanted to make others have that same feeling. I love helping others feel wanted and reach goals that they have set forth for themselves. Moreover, what motivates me to volunteers is being able to know that I am able to affect families, dreams and future generations. I want to be an example and mentor that people are able to look up to.
How much time do you dedicate to volunteering?
Each week, I spent about 10 hours volunteering, whether it’s with my church family, a service learning project or at a local hospital. I have held several positions in the near past that allowed me to teach, read and mentor students. In 2012, I taught English and Math lesson to a Hispanic community in Greenwood, South Carolina. Earlier this year, I returned from the Republic of Korea where I assisted in training Korean Soldiers to become leaders in the military. During my tenure in Korea I also participated in several volunteer opportunities such as soup kitchens, clothes for the less fortunate and health and welfare events. I believe that volunteering is a lifestyle that one must be willing to accept to help others succeed in any way possible.
What is the most rewarding part of your volunteer work?
The most rewarding part about volunteering is being able to see how much I can change someone’s life for the better. The feeling of knowing that I made someone’s day just by teaching them something new or making them laugh for a moment is extremely amazing. The students, family and friends that I’ve made during my volunteering abroad have also been a very rewarding experience. Ultimately, the simple fact that I am able to help others better their lifestyles or learn something meaningful is the most rewarding thing that I could ever do.
What is the greatest challenge of your volunteer work?
The most challenging part about volunteering is knowing that I will eventually leave the students, friends and people that I have become so close to during my time volunteering. Saying goodbye never gets easy, I’ve shed tears each time I left my placement and the wonderful countries that are now near to my heart.
Why do you believe you will be effective volunteering within a community abroad?
I believe that I am effective at volunteering abroad because I bring an interesting, exciting and unique perspective to the organization I’m joining. I use my talents that I am passionate about to help others understand the world that they live in. In the Philippines I taught a class on photography and had each of the children pose for portraits. This allowed the students to show the world what makes them unique and also boost their confidence to know that they are beautiful inside and out. Health, welfare and fitness are also other ways I am effective at helping the international community. In Guatemala, I played sports with the girls at Rosa Del Amor, specifically basketball and soccer. I used basketball to show them the importance of teamwork and being about to know that if one can succeed on the basketball court, the he or she can succeed in life. Music is a language that everyone understands and is something I also use to connect with the people I’m helping.
What are you hoping to gain from an international volunteer experience?
I ultimately want to be able to inspire others to have the same compassionate and humanitarian spirit as I do. I want others to go out and share their talents that they have been blessed with. Moreover, I want to be able to know that I at least help one person during my placement. I want to experience new cultures and teach others about the culture that I come from.