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Top 10 things I learned volunteering

  If I said I could put into words how much I learned while volunteering in St Lucia, South Africa, I’d be lying to you. However, after three separate stints volunteering with African Impact (between 2008 and 2010), I like to think of myself as somewhat of a volunteer abroad guru! I learned not only through giving back and my own personal growth, but also through making mistakes, having regrets and going back to do it all again.   Often, I learned things the hard way, but with this list you can take some words from the wise (if being wise means getting it wrong a few times before getting it right), and make the most of your volunteer time, because believe me it goes by in a flash.   Jump in   Don’t let yourself be held back! You would rather look back on your volunteering experience and not have to say “what if…?”   Jam pack every minute…   …with experiences you’ll never have again. Having that extra pint at the pub is something you can do in Chicago or Manchester. Spending the weekend hiking Ghost Mountain or taking a horse ride in iSimangaliso, South Africa’s first World Heritage Site, is not.   Hard work pays off The amount of joy, experience, and life-changing moments that you get out of volunteering are directly proportional to the effort, dedication and hard-work that you put into the projects. You get out what you put in – so go hard while you can!   Face fears Whether it’s sticking your hand in an elephant’s mouth or taking on teaching a younger age group than you would normally feel comfortable with, don’t let something that would hold you back at home stop you from experiencing everything volunteering has to offer.   Listen.   You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.  The project teams have a wealth of knowledge and have been doing this work for several years.  Listen to them, learn from them and then use your newfound understanding to go out there and effect positive change. Volunteering can be a rollercoaster of emotions and by taking it all in during your first days you’ll hopefully avoid a sense of helplessness a lot of volunteers feel during their first week.   Learn.   Everything you experience is an opportunity to learn.  Ask 1,233,245 questions over the course of your volunteer program.  The African Impact team is there to answer your questions - no query is invalid!  Take in everything you can about the place you’re in, the culture, language and customs. Then write it all down in that journal of yours so you don’t forget!   Appreciate the small things   Running water. Healthcare. Reliable 3G Internet. The list is endless. Don’t spend your time pining for what you have at home (although I know sometimes the Wifi in Africa is so slow you could throw your laptop across the café). Appreciate the smiles, the fun you can have when the electricity goes off, drinks watching a stunning sunset. They’ll be gone before you know it so take time to acknowledge the beauty everywhere!   Recreate yourself   The beauty of waltzing into a new volunteer house is that no one knows what you’re like at home. Step out of your comfort zone and work on your personal development by doing things like being vocal about your opinions, offering to do extra work without being asked, and so on.   Know the importance of bonding   When you’re volunteering, take time to look around at the people who surround you. It’s likely you will never be together like this again (although sometimes there are African Impact reunions in far-away lands!). Take advantage of this – talk through your experiences, fears and reservations about returning home. No one will understand you as much as the person sharing the bunk beside you.   I’m capable of more   When one is pushed to the brink of their comfort zone, that step outside is where the magic happens. Personal growth, making a difference in another person’s life, and seeing the world all contribute to a newfound lease on life! Bask in it, enjoy it, and remember how it made you feel when you get home!   About the author   Alanna Wallace currently works in the Marketing department of African Impact but while studying Political Science and Global Studies in her native Canada, Alanna travelled to St Lucia, South Africa on three separate occasions for a total of 20 weeks of volunteering on both education and healthcare projects.   You can follow Alanna's adventures first-hand on Twitter.   The projects in St Lucia have come a long way since Alanna first volunteered in 2008! Now, prospective volunteers are able to choose between a community-based Vulnerable Children and Rural Family Support Project, Orphan Day Care and HIV Education Project and a <a href="http:/

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AIDS education thanda private game reserve HIV volunteering holiday volunteer trip horses how can i volunteer in africa how to be a volunteer in africa how to become a volunteer how to go to africa how to volunteer how to volunteer abroad How to Volunteer Abroad how to volunteer in Africa how to work and travel how to work in africa Humming bird impact imvelo awards imvelo awards 2012 imvelo awards finalists imvelo awards winners imvelo finalists 2011 Innovative Awards Intern Abroad intern in Africa intern with a charity international earth day international volunteer International Women's Day internship internship african impact internship cape town internships internships abroad internships in africa jambiani job opportunity jobs in africa Jobs in Cape Town Jobs in South Africa Jobs with Lions jungle expedition kenya volunteering kwazulu-natal kzn wildlife large predator last minute lion lion conservation Lion Encounter lion prides lion projects lion rehabilitation lion rehabilitation project lion rehabilitation volunteering lion volunteer africa lion volunteer south africa lion volunteering lion volunteering in Africa Lions lions in africa Live and work in Africa make an impact makeyourimpact making a difference in Africa malawi volunteering marketing Masai Mara masai mara volunteering masai mara warriors Mature Volunteer mature volunteering medical outreach project medical projects in zambia medical support medical volunteer medical volunteer projects Medical volunteer projects in Africa medical volunteering medical volunteering africa medical volunteering in africa medical volunteering zambia Naboisho Conservancy national geographic new projects ngamo pride ngo NGO Internship NGO Jobs non-profit organisations nursing Older volunteering orphan care orphan care africa orphan volunteer projects Orphan Volunteer Projects in Africa over 30's over 30's volunteering packing for the bush packing for travel to Africa Paid volunteering paid volunteering in africa photography africa photography south africa photography volunteer photography volunteering plant trees pre-school volunteering preparing to volunteer programs in Africa project rhino kzn projects africa projects for africa reasons to travel Red Hill reforestation reforestation in africa responsible tourism Responsible travel retirement volunteering rhino rhino poachers rhinos killed in south africa rural school Safari safari africa Save the African Lion save the trees saving rhinos saving the lion saving the lions saving the planet school uniforms africa seychelles Smba Giya social involvement social media Something different for retirement south afric south africa south africa internships south africa rhinos south africa volunteering special offer sponsor a child programme sports volunteer st lucia st lucia south africa St Lucia, South Africa stand out cv stand out resume steve jobs student volunteering sustainability sustainable development sustainable volunteering sustaining trees table mountain teach abroad teach English abroad teach in africa teach in tanzania teach in zanzibar teaching Teaching Africa teaching in africa teaching in zambia teaching projects in africa Teaching Volunteer Projects in Africa team house tentation THAF Thanda thanda in africa thanda private game reserve the happy africa foundation tips on what to pack tourism tourism cape town tourism south africa tourism zanzibar tourism zimbabwe travel travel africa travel and work overseas travel in Africa travel opportunities travel overseas travel to africa at christmas trees for zambia Trip Advisor trvelling Tuli Game Reserve tweeting UCAS points UCAS points volunteering UK. Established in 2004 UNESCO up close with lions Victoria Falls victoria falls lion victoria falls lions victoria falls volunteer visit africa visit zimbabwe voluntary work africa Voluntary Work in Africa Volunteer volunteer abroad Volunteer Abroad volunteer abroad mozambique volunteer africa volunteer africa children volunteer africa opportunity volunteer africa program volunteer antelope park volunteer at Christmas Volunteer at Christmas volunteer chimfunshi volunteer coordinator volunteer forever volunteer game reserve Volunteer in Africa Volunteer in Africa volunteer in africa with children volunteer in African clinic volunteer in Cape Town Volunteer in Cape Town volunteer in Kenya volunteer in kwazulu natal volunteer in Livingstone volunteer in South Africa Volunteer in South Africa volunteer in Tanzania volunteer in the Masai Mara volunteer in township volunteer in west africa volunteer in Zambia volunteer in Zanzibar volunteer in Zimbabwe volunteer in Zimbabwe volunteer lions volunteer mozambique volunteer national park volunteer on conservation projects in Africa volunteer on game reserve volunteer on holiday volunteer on vacation volunteer opportunities volunteer opportunities africa volunteer opportunity abroad Volunteer opprotunities Africa volunteer overseas volunteer overseas work Volunteer programs in Africa volunteer project volunteer projects volunteer projects africa volunteer projects in africa volunteer south africa volunteer St Lucia volunteer stories Volunteer Travel volunteer travel conference volunteer wildlife volunteer with african children volunteer with animals volunteer with animals africa volunteer with animals in africa volunteer with charities in africa volunteer with children volunteer with children africa volunteer with children in kenya volunteer with chimpanzees volunteer with chimps volunteer with elephants volunteer with lions Volunteer with Lions volunteer with monkeys volunteer with orphans volunteer with rhinos volunteer with wildlife volunteer with wildlife in africa volunteer work africa volunteer work health benefits volunteer zambia volunteer zanzibar volunteer zimbabwe Volunteering volunteering abroad volunteering africa volunteering ethics volunteering in africa volunteering in cape town volunteering in Mozambique volunteering in South Africa volunteering in zambia volunteering opportunities volunteering programmes volunteering with animals volunteering with lions volunteering zambia Volunteerism volunteerng volunteers making an impact Voluntourism voluntourism voluntourism ethics voluteer in africa walk with lions walking with lions walking with lions africa What is it like to volunteer in Africa what to do at christmas what to do in Africa what to pack what to pack africa what to wear volunteering where can i volunteer Why pay for volunteering why volunteer Wildlife conservation wildlife conservation volunteering wildlife orphan care wildlife orphanage wildlife photography wildlife photography africa wildlife photography opportunity wildlife photography program wildlife photography project wildlife project africa wildlife rehabilitation wildlife research wildlife research project wildlife research volunteer wildlife volunteer africa Wildlife Volunteer in Africa wildlife volunteer in south africa wildlife volunteer project wildlife volunteer projects wildlife volunteer zimbabwe wildlife volunteering wildlife volunteering africa wildlife volunteering in africa wildlife volunteering in south africa Womens empowerment work abroad work abroad volunteer work and travel abroad work and travel overseas work experience abroad work for charities in africa work gap year work in Africa work in south africa work volunteers Work with animals work with children Work with Children in Africa work with children in south africa Work with Chimpanzees work with elephants Work with Lions work with lions in africa Worki in Africa working abroad working in Africa Working in Zambia Working with Chimps working with lions world aids day Worlds best holiday destination youth travel Zambia zambia africa zanzibar Zimbabwe zimbabwe volunteer projects zulu communities zulu culture zulu dambwa pride
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