Name: Jason Schubert
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (intermediate)
University: University of Kentucky
Degree: Community and Leadership Development
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Middle School Teaching in Accra, Ghana
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: May 2015
Claim to fame: Second time UBELONGer!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I became a UBELONG volunteer through the University of Kentucky’s Alternative Service Breaks program. While building a trip to Ghana, we were looking for a partner that had a strong reputation and really focused on sustainable and high impact volunteer work. We chose UBELONG for these two reasons, as well as their dedication to local empowerment. UBELONG works directly with local non-profits to ensure the work volunteers are doing is actually doing good. There’s no sense in doing work if it’s not going to benefit the local community.
Through this process, the UK ASB program has developed a consistent and strong relationship with UBELONG that has allowed us to send multiple teams to Ghana. Without this sustainable and strong partnership, the work we’re doing may not be the best. This process ensures that the work we’re doing impacts people and is what the community actually needs.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
One of the greatest impacts you can have on a service trip is the connections you can make with people, especially when doing education. Throughout my two weeks at the school, I was able to develop close friendships with several of the teachers and students. Through these friendships, I was able to learn a lot more about Ghanaian culture and life, and I was also able to talk more about American culture and life. During breaks between classes, we were able to discuss many topics, including cultural differences, experiences in higher education, food preferences, and so much more. These conversations really impacted me, and I hope they had a similar impact on the teachers.
With the students, I met one student in particular who was very passionate about music, and very talented. Being a musician, I was really able to relate to this student on a personal level and understand what it’s like to have your parents want you to pursue something more “marketable” in college. Talking with this student and hearing his story about becoming a musician and what he want to do was a very unique opportunity, and something that was incredible to experience.
What did you take from the experience?
I took many things from this experience, and it’s hard to narrow down the list to just one or two (or even five!). But above all, I think the importance of really getting to know someone. American culture is so cold and independent and rude compared to what I saw in Ghana. By actually talking to people and getting to know who they were I feel like I had a much greater experience. You can do service work all day long, but the moment you really understand the people you’re serving, the experience can grow into something totally new. I learned so much by just talking with the teachers and students and really gained a whole new perspective on life and how to live it.
In a sentence or less, how would you describe local life?
(this is very hard because Ghanaian culture is so incredible….) One sentence would be: Ghanaian culture is very vibrant and full; full of openness, passion, and life.