It’s been a little while since we’ve introduced you to some of our fantastic Discover Corps travelers, who inspire us with their stories, adventurous natures, and desire to give back.
Judith and Lori are a couple who completely exemplify that spirit. They’ve traveled with us to both Guatemala and Thailand, and we’re flattered they agreed to appear on this blog. We’re sure you’ll enjoy their insights on travel and volunteering:
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
We are a retired lesbian couple from the Northwest. We are both retired mental health practitioners and one of us ran a Family Service agency. We are the grandparents of a 4-year-old and 7-year-old and live across the street from them; they keep us and their parents busy! In retirement, one of us continues to teach in graduate school and one is working at a health food store for fun. We hike, bird watch, and travel for recreation. Music is a big part of our lives, too.
2. What made you decide to go on a volunteer vacation? Why did you choose Discover Corps?
Having done professional careers serving communities and families, we wanted to find a way to integrate service into our retirement that would have meaning for us and be a way to give back to others.
[bctt tweet=”Why #volunteer abroad? To ‘integrate service into #retirement’ + give back”]
3. How was your volunteer vacation different than other vacations you’ve taken?
There was a quality of contributing to the people we visited — teaching, working with kids in HIV programs, building classrooms. Our travel had a focus that involved using our professional backgrounds while at the same time exposing us to unique cultural experiences that would not happen on a usual sightseeing or relaxation vacation. We felt there was a depth to the experience missing from the usual travel experiences.
[bctt tweet=”‘There was a depth to the experience missing from the usual #travel experiences'”]
4. What was the highlight of your trip? The lowlight?
The highlight was teaching English to the kids in Thailand through music; for a retired music therapist, that was very exciting. Another highlight was visiting a social agency/orphanage where young adults were pursuing educational and occupational training; to hear their stories and be inspired by their lives and those working with and supporting them was a real privilege.
The lowlights were mainly because there wasn’t enough time, and in some cases enough people-power, to accomplish the tasks we wanted to do. Maybe Discover Corps should add another week or two to their programs and more people should go on them!
5. Is there anything you wish you would’ve known before you left?
We felt very well prepared through our contacts with Discover Corps, but we are experienced travelers in Third World countries. For people new to the experience, it is important to read and study and familiarize yourselves with the country and to go as a student of the culture, not an expert advising the residents.
6. Do you think this trip changed your worldview at all? How so?
Thailand was our first visit to a Buddhist country, and it was fascinating and inspiring to feel, see and discuss the impact that has on all aspects of society, from the government to the schools to the communities and the families. The deep level of respect and service that is built in to that spiritual orientation was inspiring and very welcoming and permeates everything.
7. What would you say to someone who is interested in going on a volunteer vacation, but is nervous to take the first step?
Read, study, prepare and be open to new experiences. Discover Corps provides a way to take risks that are safe — a perfect combination for the timid traveler.
[bctt tweet=”‘Read, study, prepare, & be open to new experiences’ #volabroad”]
A big thanks to Judith & Lori for sharing their thoughts on volunteer travel with us!