Claire took part in the supported volunteering program Step by Step, working with children in Spain for two weeks. She is now helping youngsters from Swansea to start international volunteering. Read her story here.
|Claire took a first step abroad and into international volunteering in Summer 2015, joining a two-week project in the south of Spain. She also played an important part in supporting other young people from Swansea to participate in Step by Step supported volunteering program.|
“This year it was my first time I have been on plane. It was terrifying and I was not in good mood. It was early in the morning, I was panicking about going wrong. But I had to either do it or miss that experience, so I just got on the plane to Spain. The reason I decided to go on this project was because I wanted to do a project which was working with children as I wanted experience in this type of work as it was something I had not done before. The project was a summer camp for children between the ages of 4 to 15 in order to help them develop their English language through the use of activates and the surrounding area.
As I knew the project was about working with kids and teaching them English, but in reality it was entertain the kids throughout the day. It was completely different, than I was expected, because there was hardly any communication barriers. There was few, but I overcame it soon. The work was good, because it was playing with kids and do graphics with kids and seeing different cultures. It was big fun, I met great people, who I would not met otherwise. You are not going to meet them if you are stacked in one country whole life. The thing I enjoyed most about this project was how accepting the children at the camp were of the language barriers and how they came up with solutions of how to overcome it on their own, I also liked how everyone on the project instantly got along. The most challenging thing during this project was the language barriers we faced for not being able to speak Spanish.
What I gained
I gained more confidence and it helped me how to overcome problems such as not being able to speak the same language like someone else. If you are on your own in completely different country you just have to do stuff on yourself: On my way back we had a mixed up with my flights and the project we does with children the camp finished they date after. So we had to leave camp in the Friday and my flights were booked for Saturday night. I also thought my flight was booked for Friday night, so I got in the airport and I had no idea what I was doing. The whole situation wasn’t got, just being in completely different country by myself didn’t know anyone at all… I make the best from it. I overcame this problem by checking into a hotel close to the airport for the night and informed Sheila from Step by Step program straight away about the mix up, however if there had not being this misunderstanding I wouldn’t have been able to look around Malaga.
I saw how different people live their daily lives
I think that volunteering is just helping society and giving people opportunities that they might not had otherwise. On my project in Spain they didn’t be able to do it, if they hadn‘t volunteers to do the job they needed. I think it is important to realize, that there are other countries around and not everyone has the same benefits like in UK. You might assume that everyone lives the same way how you do but in reality is not as they like that. I saw how different people live their daily life. In Spain they close all the shops in middle of the afternoon for hours, till six left, and that was completely normal…here it would be like: “Why do you close in the middle of the day and open in the six???”
When I came home it was a little strange at first because I had gone from living in a big school with 14 other people, getting the same food at the same time with them and everyone going to bed and waking up at the at same time to my house with just 6 of us and having a different schedule to everyone else in my house. So it took a while to settle back into daily home routine.
I was surprised how quickly it went and how easily I got along with everyone and we all became friends. I didn’t expect this as I usual take a few days to get to know new people and make friends with them however everyone on this project got along instantly which was nice.”
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