Pondering and wondering on what volunteering has taught me
Having done a Global Volunteer project with AIESEC in summer 2018, I sat down to think about what volunteering has taught me. I learned so many things during my high school career orientation project in the beautiful city of Cluj-Napoca in Romania. To be honest, I did not know what would await me in Romania, but I’m so glad I took the opportunity.
Here is what volunteering has taught me
1. Cultural awareness
While doing the project, I had the pleasure of meeting people from all around the world. In my own project, I worked closely with people from Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Later on, we also received new volunteers from Mexico, Thailand, Turkey… You name it, we got it.
Before arriving in Romania, I thought that I would learn things about Romania. Don’t get me wrong – I sure did! But what surprised me the most was what I learned about other countries than Romania. I now desperately want to go taste real Taiwanese pineapple cakes and admire the magnificent skylines of Singapore and Hong Kong.
Meeting these people and listening to their stories made me more aware of other cultures. I now feel like a stronger world citizen with a wider understanding of what life is like on the other side of the world.
2. Dealing with uncertainty
During the project, we always knew generally what is going to happen and when. However, Romania is different than my home country Finland and less organized. For example, the bus system in Romania is, well, slightly chaotic. We were never sure when the bus leaves or how to pay it and had a hard time finding the right bus. As someone who absolutely loves to plan ahead, this was borderline psychological torture. But at the same time, it was the perfect opportunity to develop my ability to deal with uncertainty.
I learned to deal with uncertainty with preparation. I understood that the more I know about the situation beforehand, the better I can deal with it. I also adopted a mindset: whether I was sure about something or not, the only way to find out was learning by doing.
3. Being open-minded
Living in another country can be both exciting and scary. Experiencing another culture to the fullest is easier if you have an open mind. Sometimes the things that you would consider weird might end up being one of the best things that have happened to you.
After doing the project, I feel that I am more open to viewing other cultures and people. Different ways of living and cultural differences don’t seem odd anymore – in fact, it is exciting to hear how people from other cultures live! My project in Romania really opened my eyes to the cultural diversity we have on Earth.
Going to Romania turned out to be one of the best experiences I have ever had, and I learned so much during it. What do you want to learn through volunteering? Let me know in the comments, and be sure to check all our projects worldwide!