STUDY ABROAD ALUMNI STORY
Why did you decide to volunteer abroad?
I decided to volunteer abroad because a friend of mine did the same program and when he came back, he shared his experience abroad and I was fascinated by the program and the type of work they do. Coming from a humble family that works hard day to day to give me the best, I felt I had the responsibility to give back to others and volunteering abroad was one small part to accomplish this goal.
Tell us about the program you went on
In the beginning of 2012, I joined this organization called Global Potential. In the first phase of the program I started as a fellow where you’re encouraged to do community service, fundraise money, and attend to workshops every week so you would be ready for the trip. The topics vary from developing leadership skills and global issues to social change or possible solutions for an issue within your community and society in general. In the summer I traveled to Batey 8, a village in the Dominican Republic (where I’m from), and lived there for 45 days. I feel satisfied with the work I did there. From translating to working with the community in the different projects we helped with. It was an amazing and unforgettable experience. Knowing that you have to be there by a specific time, otherwise the community members and the volunteers wouldn’t understand each other, making communication very difficult, because the majority of them didn’t speak the language, so all the weight falls on you, the leader. But the moment I enjoy the most is when I run my drill class and my leadership skills were tested. One of the program coordinators helped me with the class. He and I taught the class for over 12 hours during our trip. We wanted to give the people in the community, especially the youth, an opportunity in which they would not only learn from drilling and marching but also having fun. I always told them by the end of each lesson, “if there’s something I want you all to gain, besides knowing how to march, is to work together, teamwork, be disciplined, respect your leaders and whoever is leading the drill team and always, no matter what, believe in yourself, you can do anything you propose in your heart.” We, because we’re a team, started from zero, meaning that they had no clue on what drill was. We spent two classes showing them the basic steps of drill. By the last week, they were almost experts at marching. We even went around the village marching and singing. Grabbed some sugar cane as well. After living in Batey 8 this past summer, I became a better leader for the fact that I was able to lead and guide a group of youth through a drill journey that they might not ever forget. When I hear people saying thanks for sharing what you know with us, makes me feel I’ve done a good job and just didn’t waste my time in a six weeks cultural exchange trip. Global Potential changed my life and the way I used to see it.
How did you pay for your volunteer abroad experience?
I received a full scholarship to go abroad, and had to fundraise some funds for the air fare ticket, which I did by asking my high school teachers, family and friends.
In Batey 8, the students have to walk ten miles to school, because there is not a transportation system there like we have here. Even though the students have to walk, they make the effort to attend school in order to go to college and get a higher education. These students inspired me to work hard and aim for college. They work hard in school because they want to create change in their community. They taught me that you have to fight and work hard to get things done. While in the D.R., I also built a strong relationship with my host family and friends. In Batey 8, many people had fewer possessions and opportunities than me, but were still happy. When I came back home, I became more appreciative for the things that I have. I learned that material possessions are not the most important thing in life. I also learned to not waste things we don’t like or we don’t want, but to share them with others that might need it. Spending time in the D.R. made me realize how lucky I am. I appreciate the education and opportunities I have received and the effort, education, advice, love, and hard work that my parents have put into my life to make my dream come true. My experience in the Dominican Republic has helped in college because I became more committed and responsible. I learned to be more helpful and to be open to meeting people that I do not know.
What was the most memorable moment of volunteering abroad?
During my six weeks in Batey 8, I worked for about twenty hours at the community clinic. I met Dr. Santana and two female physicians, who encouraged and advised me to keep learning about medicine. They shared their experiences in medicine and helped me practice with patients. Dr. Santana is an ultrasound technician and taught me how to perform an ultrasound. I also spent time at the clinic with one of the two female doctors. I would sit next to her and she would explain me every issue a patient had when they came in. I learned how to write a basic prescription and how to give someone a shot. I also learned about health related issues in the community, such as teen pregnancy, cholera, and high blood pressure. Those five weeks working at the clinic gave me a better idea of what being a doctor is, and motivated me to keep learning about medicine.
Authored by: Overseas Ambassador Alumni