“The entire experience was rewarding, there is no aspect that I would change.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Bay Tipping
Age: 19
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Nationality: United States
University: Boston College
Degree: Bachelor of Science: Management and Leadership
Languages spoken: English, Spanish, Portuguese (intermediate)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching English in Hanoi, Vietnam
Duration: 8 weeks
Start month: June 2016
Claim to fame: Bay lived in Honduras for the past eighteen years, and continuously traveled on her own or with family to visit family members in the United States every summer and winter. We welcome you to the UBELONG family, Bay!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Volunteering at UBELONG was a haphazard choice, I leaned about the program from a friend at Boston College whom was going to volunteer in Peru. The decision to volunteer arose from past experiences in Central America and the personal relationships that emerged and shaped my views on culture, immigrants, education, refugees and so forth. Specifically, education in Honduras, where the illiteracy rates a high for both children and adults due to the lack of proper structure and learning curriculum, not the lack of motivation. It was also a goal of mine to spend as much time in a country where I did not know the language and to adapt to a new way of living, even if temporary. It was an experience and adventure that I would, without hesitation, repeat as often as I can. I was also, thoroughly amazed at the choices of volunteering through UBELONG, and can with all honesty say that teaching English for two months was amazing and extremely rewarding. It is now a goal to return with UBELONG and hopefully volunteer in the sectors of Law and Human Rights, Education, and well as many as I possibly can.

What did you find most rewarding from you volunteer experience?
The entire experience was rewarding, there is no aspect that I would change, but some of the experiences that I do recall most rewarding were creating lesson plans with fellow volunteers on Wednesday afternoons, this was not something I had done before but as a team we created well throughout plans for each teacher and student to ensure the most successful week. Also, switching from a public summer school education to a private school and working with the multiple levels of English as an actual teacher, even though I was sometimes younger that the students. One of the things that I loved the most was discussing and debating current events relevant to all societies and learn how different or similar our views were, which lead to building personal relationships sharing stories, experiences and knowledge through education. Aside from teaching it was the relationships with other volunteers from different countries all over the world, and each adventure that made everything much more memorable. It was a diverse group with similar interests, taking on adventures throughout Vietnam, sharing stories from our own countries and discussing all kinds of global topics that created the best friendships that I am sure will be long-lasting.

What three pieces of advice would you give to a future UBELONG Volunteer?
Three pieces of advice to future volunteers would be:

  1. Be as open-mind as possible, as cheesy as this sounds try as many new things as you can and go on as many adventures. Everything is new the food, the people, the culture, the perspective. I can definitely say that the first time I landed I was doubtful of what was to come but as soon as I arrived to the volunteer house I met about twenty other people with whom I spent my first day with and traveled to Sa Pa my first weekend with other new friends. Open-mindedness allows you to have the most fulfilling time and acts as a desire for the new.
  2. Second, I would say expand your relationships and say yes to invites. I remember that after teaching two night-classes for a teacher, she invited us to celebrate her ninth anniversary with her family and told about her life as a student and why she had become a teacher. Other students will invite you to their hometowns or out for food. These experiences are as important as teaching not only to know more about the individual person, but the culture and yourself.
  3. Finally, if you can, travel alone. The number of people you will find with similar interests is innumerable. Your closest friends will become your students, TA’s, and fellow volunteers. It will be a more rewarding experience for you and the stories you can recount will be endless.
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Related post:
Meet Francisco Nogueira, a young professional from Portugal, who volunteered with UBELONG at the education projects in Hanoi, Vietnam.