Name: Mykaelah Mercer
Nationality: United States
University: University of Kentucky
Languages spoken: English
Past travel experience: Newbie
Volunteer Abroad: Forest Conservation in Merida, Mexico
Duration: 1 week
Start month: January 2015
Claim to fame: Mykaelah has traveled throughout the United States, but her UBELONG Volunteer Abroad experience marked her first time travelling abroad.
Why did you volunteer in Mexico with UBELONG?
I had never been out of the country prior to my trip to Mexico and I wanted to choose a trip reasonable enough for my international inexperience and one that offered something that I was genuinely interested in. The school that I attend, the University of Kentucky, just so happened to offer a program through UBELONG that fit my criteria for international travel perfectly. The program was over the holiday break, lasted the duration of one week, was in the highly cultured city of Merida, offered a program that had a strong focus on the environment, and had a service aspect to it. The volunteering opportunity in Mexico with UBELONG was truly one of a kind and a perfect fit for what I was looking for.
How did you change from the experience?
It still amazes me to this day how much can happen in seven days that can change your life forever. Mexico taught me a lot of valuable life lessons that I honestly do not think I could have learned here in the United States. Mexico reminded me everyday, in new ways everyday, to be thankful for all that I have. The disparity in the city of Merida was astonishing and it brought a sense of humbleness to myself more than I had ever imagined. Now that I have volunteered through UBELONG I cannot help but want to do it again. I now have an incredible desire to volunteer even more than I already have and to not be afraid to do it in another country. There will always be people in need, in the United States and in every single other country in the world, but we as people need to realize that even the smallest gestures of kindness can make all the difference.
What piece of advice would you give a person about to go volunteer in Mexico?
UBELONG has an amazing ability to put you in positions that challenge and expose your creative abilities and that is so important. The most important thing I would tell people is to take a second, breathe, and enjoy the moments you are creating. Sometimes it is so easy to want to fly through each day with the same monotonous routine. Never be afraid to put yourself outside of your comfort zone because those are usually the moments you really begin to find yourself.
In a sentence or less, how would you describe your volunteer experience in Mexico?
Volunteering in Mexico exposed me to a lifestyle of constantly going above and beyond for anything and everything in your life, and there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that in that very moment you gave it your whole heart and soul.