Name: Pamela Wright
Hometown: Durham, North Carolina
Nationality: United States
University: University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Degree: Masters in Elementary Education
Occupation: Kindergarten Teacher
Languages spoken: English and Spanish (advanced)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Forest Conservation and Sustainable Farming in the Galapagos, Ecuador
Duration: 1 week
Start month: June 2015
Claim to fame: After completing college and traveling in the United States while working in a public relations position, Pamela moved independently to St. John, Virgin Islands.
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I’ve looked into multiple travel volunteer programs over the past several years, and UBELONG was the one that seemed to have the best balance between affordability and quality programs. It felt very important to me to give back on a global scale, particularly in a place that is typically exploited by its visitors. I really liked that fact that UBELONG works with local nonprofits, and allows volunteers to stay anywhere from 1 week to 4 weeks or more.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
Initially I felt like I wouldn’t be able to accomplish much in a week, but I came away from the project feeling super positive about the work we did. We dug hundreds of holes to help a neighboring farm in the Galapagos plant potatoes (so that they can become more self-sufficient and less reliable on food from mainland Ecuador), collected and planted endemic species, and cleared a field of mora (a highly invasive species) with machetes. When I first saw the mora taking over entire fields of land, it seemed pretty overwhelming and rather hopeless, but after seeing how much could be cleared in a day, it definitely makes you feel like it is possible to make a real impact.
What were your major challenges?
The biggest challenge was definitely the mosquitoes! They were tiny and aggressive, and we pretty much bathed in repellent. And using machetes is a lot harder than it looks!
The other major challenge was leaving! I would advise volunteers to give themselves more time than they think they’ll need. I met some really amazing people and was in such an amazing place, doing awesome work, and ended up wishing I had so much more time to continue working and traveling the area.
In a sentence or less, best packing advice?
Find out what color the mosquitoes like and pack the opposite!