Name: Mary-bestor Grant
Hometown: Mountain Brook, Alabama
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (intermediate)
Occupation: Assistant Manager at Bo’s Kosher Cafe
Volunteer Abroad: Helping at a Food Bank in Merida, Mexico
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: November 2018
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
After having lived, worked and volunteered in several different countries around the world, I chose UBELONG because of the diversity of opportunities they offered for volunteers as well as their commitment to sustainable locally-led projects. I also respect their philosophy of providing a more affordable experience. Volunteering and living abroad makes me feel most alive – each day I am humbled by the challenges of navigating a new culture and enlivened by learning its nuances. Travel is a blessing and a privilege, and I seek any opportunity to do so with an organization dedicated to give back to local communities.
What is your favorite memory?
I do not have a favorite memory. So many diverse memories will enrich my life for years to come – the day I walked into the food bank and everyone recognized me and knew my name like I had been there forever, the morning commute of walking the streets of Merida and riding the bus through neighborhoods and past cocina familiars and schoolchildren and the hustle of working people living their lives – most of whom greeted me with big smiles and welcoming eyes. Traveling to visit the Mayan ruins around the Yucutan and Campeche, spending Christmas in Merida and attending Mass at the Cathedral and walking the square afterwards with the lights and families and delicious foods and celebration.
What did you take from the experience?
Travel reminds me that no matter our language or cultural differences, we are all people and have the capacity to choose to act with compassion and respect in every situation and every relationship.
In a sentence or less, best packing advice?
Get to know the food bank in Merida, Mexico!