Name: Harsh Saxena
Hometown: Singapore, Singapore
Languages spoken: Hindi, English (fluent), French (beginner)
Occupation: Investment Analyst & Trader at an Asian Hedge Fund
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Organic Gardening in Vang Vieng, Laos
Duration: 1 week
Start month: September 2015
Claim to fame: Over the past decade has studied, lived and worked across Asia, Europe and the US.
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
UBELONG offered one of the most cost effective volunteer program in Laos. Furthermore, the ability to work both on the farm and teach at the school was an added advantage. The overall support provided during the application, pre-departure, departure phase was great.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
We cleaned the water well and leveled the area so that it can be cemented over the next couple of weeks. We also planted rows of marigold flowers at the farm. Outside farm work, we taught classes at the 2 schools and also conducted after-school classes. Both activities presented their own challenges – physical labor at the farm versus patience & mental acuity to keep up with a class of 10 year olds at the schools. At the end of the day, we felt satisfied with what we were able to accomplish during our project.
What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
Managing your expectations is the key to success. So read a lot about the place, understand the cultural nuances, and understand your own abilities. Often what we paint in our head and the reality on ground are miles apart. The more informed you are about the project, the location, your living conditions, F&B etc, the more at ease you will be in-country. This will allow you to focus on the volunteer project and achieve your goals.
In a sentence or less, how would you describe the locals you met?
Lao people are extremely humble & gentle. They are very helpful and simple in nature.