Discussion Articles

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03Feb2014

“I really believe that an open debate about how we can best volunteer is the only productive way of finding out what does and doesn’t work in the voluntary sector.”

  • By Amanda
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As you can probably tell our Learning Service team is dedicated to providing insightful resources to help you make informed decisions when you travel and volunteer. We recently began releasing a series of videos full of tips for how to make the most of your time abroad and enlisted some like-minded individuals to help us spread the word.

 

Our Learning Service Ambassador team spans the globe and represents four different continents! Eleanor, today’s featured ambassador, currently lives and works in Cambodia and lucky for us, took some time to share about her own volunteer experiences and why she believes in the Learning Service movement.

 

Learning Service: Tell me about any past volunteering experience.

 

Eleanor: I have volunteered at home and overseas.  As a student at Durham I volunteered for Amnesty International and at University College London I was a member of the Student Human Rights Project. I have also done voluntary social media work for a UK based charity called the Social Breakfast. In Cambodia I volunteered as a teacher for Conversations with Foreigners and as a monitor on the Khmer Rouge Tribunal with the Asian International Justice Initiative.

 

LS: What made you interested in volunteering?

 

E: I was interested in volunteering because it enabled me to support causes that I am passionate about.  I was also keen to do something useful with the skills that I have.

 

LS: How did your past volunteering experience influence your decision to support the Learning Service movement?

 

E: As a volunteer you want to know that the work you do is of actual benefit to a certain cause. I was keen to support the Learning Service movement because by informing people of the different issues around volunteer travel we can help them choose programmes where they can achieve this.

 

LS: How do you hope Learning Service will influence the volunteer community?

 

E: I hope that Learning Service will influence the volunteer community by not only helping people identify how they can volunteer responsibly but also open up the conversation about international volunteering as a whole. I really believe that an open debate about how we can best volunteer is the only productive way of finding out what does and doesn’t work in the voluntary sector.

 

LS: Do you have any fun volunteer stories you’d like to share?

 

E: I’ve enjoyed all the volunteering that I’ve done but singing songs with my Khmer students in Phnom Penh about tops the list!

 

LS: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go (and why)?

 

E: I would love to visit Bhutan. It’d be interesting to learn about Bhutanese society given the importance they place on gross national happiness rather than GDP. The mountainous landscape looks wonderful too!

 

LS: Any lessons you learned from your past volunteer experiences?

 

E: I think the most important lesson I’ve learnt when volunteering is to persevere, it will be worth it in the end! This is particularly relevant to volunteering overseas where the challenge of both adapting to a new culture and missing your family and friends back home can make it difficult sometimes.

 

Watch the videos!