Many people dream about going on an exchange, studying abroad in a high school or even in a college, but have you ever heard about volunteers exchange programs? You can help and also grow spiritually. Her Campus Team interviewed some girls who had this amazing experience!
To value the simple things
Image Source: Personal Archive – Camilla Thethê
Camilla Thethê always had the dream to go on a volunteer exchange program and, back in 2016, she established as the year’s goal. She got in touch with AIESEC (an exchange agency) and was called for a meeting. At the beginning, her wish was to help animals in Africa, but the agency explained that they were not doing the destination very often. Camilla started looking for new places and fell in love with Colombia, more specifically Bogotá, where she stayed 6 weeks with a host family (also volunteering).
She was supposed to work with kids, but end up spending 3 weeks working with 70 drug addicted while in treatment. However, Camilla thought that the experience was really heavy and she could not deal with the situation, so she asked for a change and the rest of her program became the experience she wanted: working with children. The community where she worked have a project called “We Speak”, to teach english and portuguese to poor children and also do some art work. Something that caught her attention was when she asked a black child to draw an ideal family and the kid draw only white people. According to her, Colombia is still a racist country and kids are affected by that.
For her, the greatest learning was to value the simplest things, because when you are in a completely different reality, in which people don’t even know what is a cellphone, the feeling of love is surreal; you learn how to love in the purest way. “You come back as a new person, and with other values. If your cellphone is the top one, if your outfit is cool, none of it makes any difference. Just love makes”, says Camilla.
To leave your comfort zone
Image Source: Personal Archive – Giovanna Ottoni
Giovanna Ottoni knew about volunteer exchange program since some friends traveled with AIESEC and started talking about it with her. She decided to do it when holidays were about to start. So she took a break from her college course, once she wanted decided to do something different. She chose Mexico to work on a project called “Bienestar”, where she did activities with children with mental illness, focusing in their health and welfare and helping them physically and psychologically with games.
To Giovanna, the most important thing was to get out of the comfort zone, to adapt to changes and a different culture, because everything was different from her Brazilian life.
To learn how to pay attention
Image Source: Personal Archive – Heloísa Artioli
Heloísa Artioli is a publicity student and her experience was a little different from the other women. Her volunteer exchange program was here in Brazil, more specifically, in Manaus. She decided to do it once she started to think that, as a society, we act as arrogant people, thinking we know about everything. “I have almost everything I want and it is important to open our mind and understand that our reality is not the only one”, she explains.
Heloísa searched for a lot of countries, like South Africa, Egypt and Vietnam, but then realized a lot of people here in Brazil need help. So she found the project through her father’s colleague who lived in the city she went to work. There, she learned to value simple things in life and her work was basically listening and living together, what does not seems to be a lot but it can change lives. The volunteer also pointed out that the people she lived with were needy and all she had to do was to give love and attention, always caring about the details.