Serving abroad is a selfless act. It’s an opportunity to focus on the needs of others and to make a difference in international communities. When you are volunteering abroad with Outreach360 in the Dominican Republic or Nicaragua it is important to remove the focus from yourself in order to make a lasting impact on the students. It’s Not About You.
An Outreach360 student asks you to read a book with them. You recognize the title of the book-one of your childhood favorites-and you agree to read with the student. You joke about how you used to read books like this when you were the student’s age. The student hands you the book and looks at you expectantly. You think about all the time, money, and effort you spent to volunteer abroad just to sit down and read a children’s book. To you, this task may seem insignificant. To the student, the words in that book will fuel their future.
Simple acts, such as reading a children’s novel, will transform the lives of our students in powerful ways. Reminding yourself that your volunteering experience is not about you will empower your actions to better serve Outreach360 students. Although this process may seem difficult, it will make your volunteering experience more meaningful to you and the students.
Sydney O’Hara, an Outreach360 Communications OLÉ Volunteer, says, “I did not embrace the It’s Not About You Outreach360 principle until late into my first volunteering experience. One week before my trip, my dad was diagnosed with a terminal form of skin cancer. Although I was physically present in the Dominican Republic, mentally I was at home with my dad. I allowed this news to hinder my ability to be the best teacher I could be for the students. It was not until my last day abroad that I understood the implications of the It’s Not About You principle, and I was able to carry this lesson over into my relationship with my dad. Service is selfless, whether that be in service of children’s education or in service of your loved ones during trying times.”
What do you have to gain from this principle? The knowledge that you are able to serve students wholeheartedly.
Outreach360 envisions a world where every person lives a life of choice. Before this can be obtainable, Outreach360 volunteers must choose to directly serve students. Embracing the Outreach360 It’s Not About You principle will transform your volunteering experience. It will open your eyes to the power of your service and the impact you can create in the lives of underserved children. In this way, you will ensure that all Outreach360 students can live a life a life of choice.
“When we say It’s Not About You, we mean that it’s about the children that we are serving; it’s about the children you are working with; it’s about the community that you are coming into as a stranger. There are other people that depend on this experience. This experience is about the people you are working with and how this experience benefits them, not you. However, it is a two-way street in a lot of ways. You’ll discover that you will benefit a lot from giving back to others,” Carla Mora, an Outreach360 Volunteer Leader, explained.