Volunteering while traveling can be beneficial

Tara Olivia Martens, Staff Writer

When you think of other countries, what comes to your mind? Some people think of exotic destinations, others imagine developed countries like Paris and Cape Town, yet to some the idea of going to another country is frightening, different or maybe something that you have never even thought you would have the opportunity to do.

As a college student one of the best investments you can give towards your career is traveling abroad. An article in the May 12, 2014, issue of The New York Times entitled, “Every Student Should Study Abroad,” makes an interesting point that “learning how to interact with people from other countries and cultures equips future leaders.”

Urgent international issues such as climate change, terrorism, energy solutions and curing diseases lack continental limits and require international collaboration as a universal component.

After spending time in six different countries working with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) and various mission trips, I can say that the experience has improved upon my life and expanded my ability to adapt to new surroundings and changes in lifestyle.

Nations I have worked in so far include Madagascar, South Africa, Kenya, Costa Rica, Haiti and Nicaragua.

Most recently my photography from Madagascar, Namibia and South Africa was documented in the Madison College art gallery entitled, “Enchanting Africa.”

When traveling abroad, getting actively involved and assisting with local needs while you are there will expand your mind in regards to world issues.

There will be times where this experience can break you, will infuriate you, and hopefully give you an introspective means of contemplating what are united world looks like.

This idea of unification and helpfulness may seem very aloof, and there is good reason for you to think this as well.

Before returning to Africa in 2015, I was feverishly working to find an NGO that would give me some purpose and meaning while I was traveling through Madagascar. The one I found was Mada Clinics and Schools, where I worked as a teacher in Mavintibao.

With Mada all of the money that the “helpers” donated towards their stay went directly to providing medicine for our clinics and supplies for the school.

Mada arranged the experience to assist a large population with medical supplies and education, with no ties to religion or extraneous ventures.

It has been my experience that traveling abroad and working collectively with a group or an organization has been beneficial to both me and the community I worked with.