A Vivid Illustration of a Typical Day on a Volunteer Vacation

Posted by on January 27, 2015 · Leave a Comment  

Do you dream of volunteering abroad, helping to enrich the lives of others while also enriching your own?

If so, you may wonder what you’d actually be doing all day. Sure, the idea sounds lovely — but what would you be seeing, thinking, and feeling? Though everybody’s experience is different, we’d like to help you imagine yourself there.

So in this post, we’ve painted a vivid picture of a typical day on a Discover Corps volunteer vacation.

The Morning Ritual

The crow of a rooster wakes you at 6 a.m. It’s a pattern you’ve become accustomed to since you arrived two days ago. Back home, the loudest noise might be the roar of your neighbor’s car or the banging of a construction site down the street. So a crowing rooster flashing feathers outside your front door is almost peace to your ears.

During your trip with Discover Corps, your lodging is called Home Base, and though your room is simple — a twin bed with an ensuite bathroom — you relish its rustic, clean lines.

Sun filters in, effusing the curtain hanging over your window with a golden haze. This signal of earth waking means it’s time for you to rise as well — because a full day lies ahead.

At breakfast, you’re joined by other volunteers and members of the local community. Their own homes are only a few feet from yours. This rhythm of sharing a morning meal allows for laughter, swapping stories, and some light-hearted comparison of cultures.

You’ve come to appreciate the delicious taste of  basic ingredients you used to take for granted — such as fried eggs with salt. Its pure flavors are a pleasing sensation on your tongue.

With your belly satisfied, it’s time to dig into the ongoing community project. Maybe you’re building a school composed of recycled cans or bottles, or perhaps you’re helping locals construct clean burning stoves so their homes are productive and safe.

Either way, you come to the day’s work with learning in mind. You watch and ask questions of the residents, instead of delegating orders. Little by little, you are understanding how to be humble and cooperative.

Then your stomach growls, an indication that lunch is coming soon.

The Midday Pause

At lunch, all the volunteers and local residents sit down at a long table together. Most of the meals are taken outdoors, which is the norm here. This is fascinating to you, eating among rolling green fields — and watching the mountains in the distance as clouds converge and disperse over the peaks.

After a hearty midday meal, it’s time for an excursion. One of the indigenous farmers will be your guide for a hike in those same mountains you were just admiring — to visit a few farmer’s collectives.

Thankfully, the hike is not as strenuous as you feared, and along the way, your guide points out some native plants that locals eat or use for medicinal purposes.

Once you reach the halfway point, a vista opens before you, and the land is transformed into terraced farming. Your guide brings the group to an enclosure where several farmers are waiting to teach you about agricultural practices that have been in place for generations.

You help carry a load of vegetables that will be eaten at dinner — choosing to hike at a slow pace so you can imbibe the crisp mountain air and visually catch all the plants you just learned about.

The Evening Contemplation

The evening meal is a shared affair, since cooking duties are divided up among the volunteers.

You stand over one of those clean burning stoves and discover how to prepare and stew a local root. You realize later that it tastes like a potato, but better.

A group of local leaders joins you at the communal table to eat stew and rice, discussing the challenges and needs of their village.

You listen patiently, feeling drawn to one of their ideas and secretly deciding to ask if you can offer any support to them.

Some of the kids beg you to play with them, so you do, kicking around a ball until the last light goes out in the eating area.

You turn down your bed and slip in, wide awake with adrenaline, yet knowing sleep is important on this trip. The next day awaits — and you can’t wait to see what’s in store. 

If you were going on a volunteer vacation, what would be most excited about? The food? The people? The landscapes? 

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