There is a sense of spirituality and family
in India that we've lost in the U.S.
I only went for three weeks, but when
I got back, nothing was the same. I had learned to appreciate things
more. I no longer took my washer and dryer for granted! It really
expanded my worldview - previously, I had only left the U.S. to
visit Greece. I think I am more tolerant now of things that Americans
get crazy over, like road rage for example. That kind of thing is
not important to me anymore.
My trip to India gave me the desire to continue to experience cultures
the way I had there - to immerse myself and become part of the community.
I made friends still keep in touch with today. International volunteering
is a way of bringing the world closer together.
Later, Marge volunteered in Russia
I brought along my 77-year-old mother and we volunteered together
at an orphanage in the city of Yaroslavl. My mother was wondering
what she could do and I said, "Mom, you knit - why don't you teach
the kids how to do that?" so she brought along a suitcase full of
yarn and knitting needles. She taught a group of girls 12-15 how
to knit mittens. There was a little girl named Julia, about 13 years
old, blonde and beautiful with really good English. She bonded especially
with my mother. They were posing for a photograph, my mother and
Julia and Julia's finished red mittens. Julia has a huge smile on
her face in the picture. After the photo was taken, she turned to
my mother and said, "This is the first new thing I have ever owned."
There was a little boy, about 8, who was always frowning, always
angry. I would be standing at the window and see him outside, smoking
with his friends. I'd tap on the glass and shake my finger at them,
and they'd disperse. One day, I was taking photos of all the kids,
one of each. The angry little boy kept bugging me, "Where's my photo,
where's my photo?" Constantly he'd ask, "When am I going to get
my photo?" I finally got them developed and went to give his picture
to him, mainly to get him off my back. When I handed it to him,
his whole face lit up, the first time I'd seen him smile. He looked
at it for a moment and then held it out to me, saying, "I wanted
it for you."
When you volunteer, you come away so full from what you've done.
You make a difference. In this day and age, post 9/11, people are
feeling empty and want to know what they can do to make a difference
- here it is. It's one kid at a time. When you leave this program,
everyone you've touched sees America as you - it becomes personal.
You can't do that as a tourist.
Solutions is a non-profit organization that sends over 1,000 volunteers
abroad each year to provide humanitarian assistance with their Volunteer
Work Programs in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, India, Peru, Russia
more details click here to visit their website.
or contact them at:
Marge's volunteering experiences
at the Russian Orphanage
Courtesy: Cross Cultural Solutions