Alec Campbell is a student from Canada. Alec had a wonderful experience volunteering in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and in Chiang Mai, Thailand with Volunteering Solutions. In the interview he is giving some insights into the experience.
Why did you choose to Volunteer Abroad ?
I chose to volunteer abroad because I have been an avid traveller my entire life. For those who share the same sentiment, we know that a high degree of personal fulfillment can be attained from venturing into the unknown, and that fulfillment is greatly beneficial to all people entering higher education and lifelong careers.
Where did you Volunteer abroad and why did you choose these destinations ?
I spent two months in Cambodia followed by two weeks in Thailand. Since I had begun planning my gap term, I had been focusing on Southeast Asia, especially the Indochina region, because of its rich history and architectural wonders from older civilizations. Cambodia especially was a must for me because of the insight that could be gained from a population who had been so deeply affected by the Indochina Wars. As a volunteer, you also have the opportunity for sightseeing when you are not working, and so I used the opportunity to see Angkor Wat and other major sites.
How was the support provided from VS in country teams and the VS head office backend team ?
Throughout the process, the Head of Operations was exceedingly helpful and responsive. We were able to organize the entire trip just using email alone. I also praise the in-country staff, most of whom belong to VolSol’s partner organizations, for delivering some of the most informative orientations I have ever seen. All people involved were very good at checking in and encouraging status updates.
What is your favourite memories from the trips ?
As other volunteers might find, my best memories come from the people that I met while abroad. I met very few other people of my own nationality, but I made friends with at least a dozen French people and several more of the local Khmer people with whom we could communicate well thanks to our shared knowledge of each other’s languages. I have continued to keep in touch with these people, and I hope that I will continue to do so for a long time.
Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?
Some common hurdles for solo travellers might include the sudden demand for full independence or the threat of culture shock, but these were never of much concern to me. Being safe on the street was one concern for me, but this quickly faded as I became habituated to the new environment and to the knowledge that Cambodia is among the safest places in the world to be in. Being open-minded makes everything easier.
Would you recommend Volunteering Solutions programs to others ?
Yes. From my exchanges with VolSol, I have full confidence in their ability to provide advice and support to anyone who wishes to participate in their programs. Always remember the importance of tempering your expectations and of taking your work seriously at all times.