Name: Mario Ghobrial
University: University of Western Sydney
Languages spoken: English and Arabic
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad project: Assisting at a Sports Center in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 3 weeks
Start month: November 2013
Claim to fame: Mario started a fundraising campaign that allowed him to donate sports equipment to the center he served at with UBELONG in Cusco.
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Sport in Australia has been my passion and has provided me with the best opportunities and greatest memories. Before travelling to Peru I thought about what kind of things I would like to pass on to other children whilst I volunteer. So the idea of just playing and teaching sport to kids would be my method. After searching various volunteer organizations I came across UBELONG who I thought offered a variety of great programs that suited me. I felt I connected most with UBELONG’s mission statement and decided to go with them. I’m glad I chose UBELONG as my volunteer organization as they allowed me to cater my project to my interests.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
I was fortunate enough to work in a Government school in Cuzco, which consisted of both primary students and high school students. They loved engaging in a variety of different sports that I had selected to introduce to them from Australia. Most sport lessons before I arrived was either soccer or volley ( the two most favored sports). However, it was good to see other sport teachers in the school adopt and implement games that I had introduced into my lessons. It goes to show that sharing ideas can go a long way in making positive changes.
What is your favorite memory?
It’s hard to pick one moment during my four weeks that was special because every day was spectacular and magical. However, if I was to say one thing that made me really happy was the faces and smiles on the kids when we purchased them new equipment to play with. During my project I realized that a lot of the equipment was either old, falling apart, or broken. So together we fundraised to buy the school new sports equipment. The kids were so grateful and appreciative of this gesture, and it was a special moment for me to witness this.
What did you take from the experience?
One special aspect of volunteering is you end up taking more than you give. I’m not talking about something tangible. The kids really valued the time and effort I put into my project, every day I was reminded by 100 high-fives or 100 thank-you’s the impact that I was having on these kids’ lives. If it’s one thing I took from this project is, doing what you love and passing on that passion can really affect people in a positive way. Seeing the kids smiling, laughing, having fun, making new friendships – this is the type of experience that makes everything worth it!