Two weeks into my mandate and I think I have done more than I would have done all summer if I stayed home. I feel like I’ve lived in this country for months and have known my roommates forever – obviously, this isn’t the case.
I have two reoccurring thoughts on a daily basis: “It has already been two weeks? Time is going by fast!” and “It has only been two weeks?! I really still have two and a half whole months left.”

Of course, both messages have different tones: one is of excitement and the other is more dreading. I think that as volunteers we need to be careful not to be caught in limbo between both thoughts. Everyone keeps saying 3 months is going to come and go just like that *snaps fingers* and although this is probably true, it doesn’t bring much reassurance – especially for those who are experiencing such a vast and intense separation from family and friends for the first time. Not only that but being in a developing country adds another layer of discomfort and unfamiliarity which cannot be eradicated by a simple statement.

There’s one thing I continuously remind myself and I know it’s easier said than done:

Don’t let fear and worry rob you from such a great experience. It’s so easy to become distracted and to overlook the opportunity you have been presented with; the opportunity to work with an NGO such as WUSC and work within a community that intends to positively change the economic status of the poor and marginalized.

I urge you not to focus all your attention and energy comparing your new environment to the old. Don’t get stuck thinking about what’s happening back home and what you’re possibly missing. It’s a dangerous place to be trapped in and if you’re not careful, you can rob yourself from creating your own stories, stories that will be unique to your experience. Embrace the gift that is volunteering and be determined to contribute in whatever way you can, no matter how small your role may play in the larger scheme. You don’t want to spend your entire mandate being physically present but mentally absent.

Another little piece of advice: avoid seclusion. Interact with others. Your fellow volunteers will be your greatest allies as you guys are journeying together. People are much nicer than you may expect.