Not too long ago we wrapped up our ‘Know Before You Go’ video contest. After the contest closed we randomly selected names from those who entered the contest for some awesome prizes donated by our sponsors, which included an assortment of Eagle Creek bags, KEEN shoes, and our grand prize: a three-day stay in Siem Reap, Cambodia.


Thanks again for participating and congratulations to the winners!


Final Winners

To get to know them better, we asked each of the winners to let us know why they think learning before serving is important, what they would like to see from Learning Service in the future, and to share any learning experiences they’ve had while volunteering abroad.

Why do you think learning before serving is important?


In my opinion, learning before serving is something that all volunteers should do. Before deciding what kind of volunteering work you want to join, you should be aware of all the polemics that are around that subject and the country you’re going to choose. This is the only way you can be sure that you’re helping a good cause and you’re not promoting something “suspicious”. – Inês Cunha


I think that you will get much more out of your experience if you are prepared. From knowledge about the country and a few words of the language, to sustainable practices within non-governmental organizations, being equipped with knowledge will enhance the self-awareness that you will gain through your work experience. – Rachel Owen


The best thing about learning before serving is knowing how to make the most of your time serving. – Todd Fass


Learning before service is important to avoid not only disappointment but also to make volunteering a mutually beneficial experience that does not perpetuate common stereotypes and perceptions of superiority on the side of the supposedly more “developed”.  – David Korenke


Service without learning is self-gratifying, empty work. It is in the learning and the relationships we build that we become better humans and truly embrace all humanity. – Kathy Millar


I think learning before serving is really important in order to better understand foreign culture, to make the most out of one’s own experience, and to provide the best possible help. – Janina Artmayer


What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from a volunteer experience?


My most important service lesson is that I don’t always know best or have all the answers. It was humbling to learn that there are multiple “correct” approaches to a challenge and that not all solutions work at all times. True service requires listening and learning. – Matthew Hughes


The biggest lesson I’ve learned from serving abroad is patience and participation. Even if it takes longer, you need local ideas, buy-in, and resources so best to include them early and be patient along the ride. – Eve Van Devender


The biggest lesson I’ve learned from volunteering (teaching English to refugees) is a greater understanding about the difficulties of coming to the United States as an immigrant or refugee, and what kind of resources would make the transition process easier. – Anna Lee White


What would you like to see from Learning Service in the future?


Work to partner with travel companies or industry leaders and come up with accepted best practices that can be adopted across the industry. I think it’s only a matter of time before the right people start to understand the lessons Learning Service is promoting. – Adam Vaught