I am María Inés Salazar, 22 years old Ecuadorian, who at 18 years old had the opportunity to travel as volunteer to Mysore, India, for six months. My time there, was the best way to growth up as a person, it helped me to find the kind of work that I want to do, it allowed meet people from different cultures (people that after help me to wide my comprehension of live). Now, after five years, I still considered this experience as one of the best in my life and I am pursuing my major in a subject that will allow me to dedicate my time to it.
India is a country full of color, fragrances and big hearths. I worked as volunteer in a school, teaching English to children. without a doubt, my work placement was the most important aspect of my time there. I learnt how to communicate with gestures, smiles and hugs, I used this language with children that did not know how to talk in English. In a brisk I found myself understanding everything, enjoying their jokes, learning about their families and getting to know deeper their personalities. Say that I started to love them is not enough because those children taught me to love myself.
I stayed with a host family, this allowed me to be part of their customs, share traditional dishes and learn a bit of the language. Mi home was near of the school, where I was working, thus I used to walk to my work placement, I used to greet all the neighbors that returned to me with a smile and of course with plenty of cows.
As well, I had the opportunity to travel and visit other cities. The program allowed me to meet a lot of international people, who were doing a voluntary service as well. I made some good friends, and with them I enjoyed beautiful days at beaches, big cities, and small towns. Since I return to my country I decided that I have to come back, hopefully I will return soon, because, I know that it will overpass my expectations as the first time did.
In 2012 my decision to volunteer led me to beautiful Argentina, more specifically to the province of Buenos Aires, where I lived and worked for a year in nursing home. A home of beloved grannies and grandparents, as we used to call them after those twelve months together.
The idea of volunteering after school has been a very conscious decision and reflected, that was reinforced during a series of preparation seminars that I had with other volunteers and, not least, with myself. I had clear that, before studying or working, I wanted to spend a year out of everything, a year that was only dedicated to my personal growth, it was possible in an ideal and unique moment of freedom of time that I knew I would hardly will have in the future. Also the choice to go to Latin America, later on Argentina, has arose from the a desire to know a continent that was until that moment unknown to me, but that awoke in me a curiosity and an interest like no other continent.
In retrospect to my volunteering program, every time someone asks me about the year in Argentina, it is impossible for me to summarize such an intense and key experience in a simple phrase. For me the experience of my volunteering year (a year away from home) has been one of the experiences and adventures more decisive and those that most marked and directed my path. My stay in Argentina has allowed me to meet a country and its people as I could never imagine, it is a immersive sensation that you cannot experiment on a long pleasure trip or on vacation. I had the luck of have the time available to travel through other countries of the continent and thereby complete more images and understand little by little the immense diversity of Latin America that caught me and amazed me, in fact it still keep calling me.
The experience of my volunteering is unique and at this time I could say that at that time do a year gap was best. That year I pulled out of my comfort zone and I It made me reflect on many levels about my enormous privileges; representing the volunteering itself one of them. To each person who has the opportunity, the desire, the will and the great luck of being able to go to another place to collaborate in the most concrete way and staff, can tell you and recommend with all my certainty that it is one of the best and most lucky decisions that you will be able to make. From my personal experience one of the most important advice I would give you is to avoid falling into the illusion of being able to change the world. We do not do it with a temporary stay that serves most to ourselves. Do not forget to reflect, sensitize and maintain our eyes wide open, maybe in that way we can improve a little and with that, we already change a lot.