Outreach360 Caminos Volunteer Intern Guest Writer: Alyssa Gehman
When I was a freshman in college, I was lost. I didn’t know where I fit in on a campus four hours away from home. So I started applying to anything and everything. I still don’t remember what made me decide to go on a trip to a place where I didn’t speak the language when I’d never been out of the country before, and with 20 strangers for that matter, but it was the best decision I could have ever made volunteering abroad with Outreach360.
In the seven days, I was in Nicaragua, those 20 strangers turned into 20 new best friends. Some of them, people who will probably be in my wedding one day, are people who I would have never met otherwise.
After my first trip, I couldn’t stay away. At this point, I’ve volunteered with Outreach360 five times and have had several unique experiences. I’ve volunteered as a team member, a team leader, and an individual long-term volunteer and hold every experience so close to my heart.
Over the past four years, I’ve gotten to work with several different groups of students and have gotten to see the kids in the learning center grow. It’s so incredible to see how the organization has evolved over time and how smart the students are.
Not only does Outreach360 give its students amazing opportunities, but they also think of everything for volunteers. As a volunteer, your primary responsibility is to be the best teacher for the kids and the only other thing you have to worry about is living in the moment. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such an amazing organization.
The time I’ve spent with Outreach360 continues to change my life. I’ve completely fallen in love with traveling, Latin American culture, and serving others through my experiences in Nicaragua. I continuously learn new things about people, the world and most importantly, myself. Each time I return to Nicaragua, my life is put into perspective. My goals are clearer; life seems simpler.
I’ve grown so passionate about non-profit work and education through volunteering abroad with Outreach360 and hope to eventually have a career within the non-profit sector. My dream job would be to organize service trips for a college campus similar to the work that I did as a team leader. I’d love to give students the opportunities that I’ve had in the past. Looking back, I don’t know if I would have gone in this direction had I not made a choice to do something different.
I think volunteering abroad is so important not only for the world but for the soul and I encourage everyone to participate in some way. For me, getting to see how other people live completely changed my life and made me see life from a different perspective. I’ve learned that changing your life starts with just taking that first step out of your comfort zone, and I’m so thankful that I decided to get involved with Outreach360!