Andy, who took part in many volunteering activities in Wales and abroad. This volunteering journey helped him start a career in humanitarian work abroad. Andy was an active volunteer with UNA Exchange in early 2000s. He took part in many volunteering activities in Wales and abroad, including a Long Term European Voluntary Service in Iceland.
“When in my last year of University, I was looking for volunteering opportunities overseas, for the summer after finishing my studies. I came across UNA Exchange and decided to apply for a project.”
The experience changed his life, and led him volunteering the following year to lead a work camp in Wales. He remembers the first project he led in Wales where he were grouped about 15 young people from Europe and Asia, working in a nature reserve on disused coalmine.
“People in Welsh Valleys don’t like English, you won’t be welcome there”
Those unfair judgement that people were making, like had more preconceptions about other parts of the UK than about other countries. However, when he got there, he found that people were exceptionally welcoming and friendly, and it was great to work alongside young people from local village too.
“That also opened my eyes to how much there to discover in UK, and how little I knew and how wrong my preconceptions of small Welsh villages was. I felt inspired by people I met, and how much I was learning about others, and myself.”
From his volunteering exchange he learnt to manage people from different countries. He was amazed by how easy it is to form friendships with people from a whole range of other culture, when you have a reason to interact and are living and working together closely for a period of time, as well as group of group of young people, from different background, bonded to the point that they were upset to leave each other at the end of project. For him, in the end of project, people were the best thing either local or international volunteers or project could be good or bad but if it was good group then we enjoyed ourselves and felt successful project.
“Most definitely, that experience has helped me learn to be a manage people from different sectors and different countries, which essential to my current job.”
University give us education and prepare us for society. However, volunteering provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge that different from what we got from experience in university but at the same time it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around us.
“I would encourage everyone to spend a period of time volunteering if they can.”
So, what do you think when you think about Volunteering? Are you willing to grab this experience, even once in lifetime?
Join us in Global Volunteer!