I’m on a mission to share inspiring stories with you through the help of fellow travel bloggers and avid travellers. This time, we have Dorota from Born Globals telling us all about how volunteering abroad changed the way she now travels. It’s a really inspiring story and I hope it’s also proof of how many of you can make your dreams a reality if you just keep trying to find your own way of doing things.
Say Hello to Dorota…
Dorota lives in Poland, and embarked on a volunteer abroad program back in 2014. This changed how she viewed travel and I think it’s safe to say that she’s not looked back since. Her travel blog, Born Globals focuses on both adventure and volunteering abroad, with some pretty amazing photography appearing throughout her articles too!
This is Dorota’s travel story…
How Volunteering Abroad Changed The Way I Travel
I’ve always loved travelling. Since I was 3 years old my parents were taking me on trips. First, we went to the Polish mountains, an hour’s drive from home. Then, my first holiday abroad in Croatia when I was 5. My first skiing trip in Austria the following winter and since then, every year we were going for a rest in another European destination. We walked, sunbathed and enjoyed our time by the hotel pools. I loved it.
But as I grew up, I started missing something in these trips.
Yes, I saw the places. I knew what the Eiffel Tower looks like, I’ve seen Big Ben and I imagined the gladiators fighting at the Roman Colosseum. And yet, after coming home I always felt a kind of emptiness.
I didn’t understand it. I started travelling with my friends, I thought I needed to change company because I had gotten “too old” to travel with my parents. It didn’t help.
Something was still missing.
When I started studying, I met foreign students and in a couple of hours with them I learnt more about their countries than I did during two weeks of holidays there. It seemed weird to me that I knew so little even though I’ve been there.
One day, I found information about volunteering opportunities abroad. Something clicked, my heart missed a beat. I knew I had to try and travel in a completely different way. I wanted to learn about the country first-hand and I wanted to show mine to others.
I applied for the AIESEC Global Volunteer program to teach the basics of finance in a high school in Saint Petersburg, Russia. I passed the interviews and when everything was set, I started to panic. I was waking up at night covered with sweat, thinking “Why the hell am I doing this to myself?”
What if I don’t like it, what if I’m not good enough to teach, what if people there are mean, what if we have a language barrier, what if…?
I was close to running away, to “oversleeping” my flight. But I boarded that plane.
And it was a life changing decision.
I didn’t just see the place this time. I experienced it with other volunteers and with the locals. I lived with the locals. I drank vodka with the locals and I cooked borscht under their careful guidance. I spent Easter with them, I heard stories of their lives. I lived their life.
And I gave something back. I walked the 18 year-olds through the very basics of managing their finances. They learned to plan their budget and savings. They learned what the role of Central Bank is and how to convert currencies. They invested virtual money on a stock exchange simulation and saw their gains or losses.
They also learned where Poland is on the map. They learned that Nicolaus Copernicus or Frederic Chopin were Polish and they learned how to say “Good morning” or “Thank you” in my language.
Other volunteers, my new Russian friends and hosts tried Polish vodka and sang songs in Polish. I showed them pictures of our cities, mountains and seaside. Some of them visited my country afterwards.
When I went home after these 6 weeks, I didn’t feel the familiar emptiness. My heart was exploding with emotion overload. I was proud of myself for not running away, I was happy I could contribute, I was sad to leave these people behind. I was excited to make plans for the future.
On my way back to Russia I decided I will volunteer on every continent.
And I will spread the word about this amazing way of travelling.
That’s how my blog came into being. That’s why I volunteered on a farm in the USA and that’s why I will teach English to kids in Thailand in 2018.
That’s how I found my way to get the most out of travelling and I wish you to find yours too.
Dorota lives in Poland. Even though she has always been passionate about travelling, she discovered a whole new world when she went to Russia for a 6 week volunteering program. She loved it so much that she decided to volunteer on every continent and promote this idea via her blog: Born Globals. Dorota slowly made her dream come true – and she wants to help others to believe they can do it too! Follow Dorota on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to find out more.
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