Thursday, March 3, 2011
A day in the life of an international volunteer
Unselfish and noble actions are the most radiant pages in the biography of souls. ~David Thomas. There is no typical day in the life of a volunteer who is abroad but there are some similarities. Many volunteers have different schedules or itineraries when they are working abroad. The schedules normally depend on the volunteer program that they are in. The program determines when they wake up, have meals and when they go to sleep. In some programs the volunteers is limited to a number of activities while in others the programs are open. Wildlife conservation programs are more rigid, in that the volunteer is confirmed to the conservation area for the work period. Hence the activities are limited. Open programs are where there a host of things to do and thus the volunteer is more flexible to choose as many activities that they want to do. In flexible programs they can choose how many days of the week they can work and how many hours per week they can put in. some volunteers prefer to be really exerted in the program and be really busy, while others want to put in little effort in their work. Here is a typical work schedule of a volunteer who is abroad;
Depending on the program the volunteer has a specific time to wake up. Most programs require the volunteer to wake up before 7:00 am. They are meant to have showered and dressed as breakfast is served at that time. Breakfast varies on the location that the volunteer is in, for example in Kenya breakfast consists of milky tea, bread, mandazi (dough like bread) and chapatti. At around 8:00 am the volunteers leave for the program and normally spend half an hour or hour to get there. In some programs the volunteer will be either is driven to the project of they are going to use public transport to reach their destination. As public traffic could be an issue, the volunteer should plan their day accordingly. For the volunteers who live next to the project they normally start their day later. Most programs normally start from 9:00 am and before it starts, the volunteers are given roles, and assigned tasks to complete by the day’s end. By around 11:00 am there is normally a tea break, where the volunteers are given an opportunity to get some refreshments.
During this time the volunteer goes to get lunch. They could go to a restaurant to buy lunch or it is provided by the program. In India a typical lunch could be Aloo gobi Masalai made up of cauliflower, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, red chili and turmeric powder. The afternoon sessions are normally the shortest, they last for one to two hours. Most of the light work is done during these times. Recaps of the set agenda are done to see what has been accomplished and what needs to be redone. Also to see what will set up the next day’s agenda. In very rare occasions will the volunteers be asked to stay up late to do finish assignments.
From a hard days work, the volunteer will be tired and would require some rest. During this time the volunteer is left alone to come up with something to do. Most volunteers take this time socialize with other volunteers or the family with which they are staying with. Meals are normally served by 8:00 pm. Dinner in China could be almond chicken made up of skinless, boneless chicken breasts, rice wine, garlic cloves, eggs, and almond.
In some programs, the weekend starts from Friday, to Sunday. Most programs don’t have a prescribed schedule for the weekends. They give the volunteers to organize their own plans for the weekends. Most volunteer use this time to go for excursions, trips, and safaris.