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Make it a Christmas to remember

  Looking to do something different for the holidays this year? Christmas in Zambia may be the perfect fit for you! Instead of receiving gifts, try giving back this holiday season and volunteer abroad!   I spent my first Christmas away from home last year and had the most amazing time in Livingstone, Zambia. It can, of course, be a bit scary and nerve-wracking at first, but you will have such a rewarding experience and a Christmas that you will never forget.  

  No matter how short or long you stay, you will be embraced by a slew of staff and volunteers on site that will become your second family and will make you feel right at home in Livingstone. You also have the opportunity for weekend excursions. That means that not only did I get to spend my holidays teaching kids and volunteering in the community, I also got to pet lions, go camping, ride an elephant, and see the glorious Victoria Falls. How’s that for a holiday season?   Teaching the kids and doing work in the community was very special, particularly during the holidays. We taught the kids at “Holiday Club,” which provides an opportunity for them to learn and have fun in a safe environment while they are on their break from school.   Holiday Club is open to any of the children in the community, and many of them are eager to attend. Holiday Club can be interesting since the kids are a variety of ages. The students are anywhere from babies to 14-years-old! It can be a challenge to teach such a wide range of students, but it really is a lot of fun at the same time.     Participating during Christmas is especially unique because if there were no volunteers to teach at Holiday Club, there would be no Holiday Club! Being able to provide this resource for the kids and even just spend time with them is so important because you never know where the kids would be if they were not in school.   You also get to plan any kind of lesson that you would like and take suggestions from the kids so you can teach them what they want to learn about. At the school where I was teaching, we spent one day doing an “under the sea” lesson, and we did various country specific lessons, which are great since there are volunteers from all over the world. A young boy in class really wanted to learn about plants, so we did an environmental lesson as well. Showing interest in the children and engaging with them is such a meaningful way to give back to the community.  

  So instead of asking for gifts this year, ask for money to help fund your volunteer abroad program! You can give the ultimate Christmas gift and spend time teaching the kids at Holiday Club. Seeing the smiles on their faces and how excited they are to learn beats a Christmas at home any day.   Volunteering in Zambia during the holiday season was the greatest gift I could ever have imagined, and it will be a Christmas that I will always remember. You have the unique opportunity this Christmas to show multiple children love and support by providing them with knowledge and happiness during the holiday season. I encourage you to think about what Christmas truly means to you, and make the choice to volunteer abroad.   About the Author   Marissa is an American marketing graduate currently pursuing her MBA at Eastern Illinois University. She’s passionate about exercise, running, pasta, the colour purple and most of all, traveling! You can read all about Marissa, her travels, and her volunteer time with African Impact on her personal blog.   Take Marissa's advice and give back this Christmas by volunteering with us over the holidays in Livingstone, or on community and conservation projects in the heart of rural South Africa. 

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