“Go when you can, and stay as long as you can.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Amy Lentz
Age: 26
Hometown: Los Angeles
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, French (intermediate)
University: Vanderbilt University
Degree: Human & Organizational Development
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Advancing Women’s Rights in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 12 weeks
Start month: May 2015
Claim to fame: Spearheaded 5K run with a women’s empowerment non-profit, which raised $50,000 to benefit free-of-charge counseling for sexually abused women and girls.

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Having worked in the non-profit sector in the USA, I desired to broaden my impact internationally. I chose to volunteer through UBELONG due to their strong reputation online, their positive reviews, and the reasonable cost associated with their support. While in Cambodia, UBELONG partnered me with a sex-trafficking prevention NGO, knowing that I had experience in this sector. I felt seen, understood, and felt that my strengths were being put to good use for an organization that needed what I could bring to the table.

What did you take from the experience?
I walked away from my experience learning a lot about a new country (Cambodia), and learned that there is a lot to be done, and that my contribution made a ripple effect – not without effect, but so many more people are needed to continue the work that I and many more volunteers are making. At times I felt hopeless due to the amount of restoration the country needs, and most times I felt empowered – to be able to contribute toward change that I could see with my eyes while over there. I walked to work every day, and seeing so many children not in school, and seeing so many young girls being prostituted ignited an urgency to continue on in pursuing the work of educating women around the world.

What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
Simply – go. UBELONG took out all of the guesswork with where to work, where to stay, what to eat, etc. If you are considering international volunteer work, I encourage you to go when you can, and stay as long as you can. I lived in a volunteer house with up to 40 people and each and every person that left during my stay (3 months) left wishing they were staying longer. Also, don’t be aimless in the kind of work you want to do. I had experiences talking to people who didn’t take the time to process what volunteering would look like – they anticipated more of a vacation-like experience. Don’t have expectations, and be flexible.

In a sentence or less, what was your funniest moment?
I went to an international wrestling match, and the Wrestling Officials believed me to be related to a (western) wrestler, and sat me on stage in the VIP family section.

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Related post:
Meet Katherine Davis, a University of Michigan undergrad, who volunteered with UBELONG, at the advancing women’s rights project in Rabat, Morocco.