“We were able to communicate with each other even though we did not speak each other’s language.”

UBELONG

UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Margaret Scott
Age: 30
Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (beginner)
University: University of Mississippi
Bachelors: Finance
Occupation: Bookkeeper and General Manager at Savage’s Bakery
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for the elderly in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: July 2015
Claim to fame: Margaret is the “Peace Keeper” of her family, and she has taken on a role in her family as a leader and keeping the peace among everyone in her family, even though she is the youngest in her family.

What was your impact on your volunteer project?
I mostly helped out with serving meals and with crafts for the elderly women who were in assisted living.  Many of these women were in pain from arthritis, could not walk, and had to have assistance with all their daily activities. It was a joy to help someone who truly needed your help and most importantly each one of them was always so appreciative.  I was able to create a bond with many of the ladies and during my two weeks we were able to communicate with each other even though we did not speak each other’s language.  Many of the people in the nursing home did not have family to take care of them, so just a smile or hug, or a piece of candy made their day.

What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
I would recommend that future volunteers try to learn the basic language as much as they can, to make communicating easier. Also, it is imperative that each volunteer is completely open to different cultures, different work habits and can adapt very easily during the day. Having a positive attitude and willingness makes the project so much more enjoyable and just being able to love another person, someone you would not encounter from home, is so important and brings so much more meaning to everything.

Tell me about somebody you met who impressed you?
There were several ladies who impressed me a great deal, actually all of them. However, there was one that really stood out to me though…her nickname was “bunny” (or at least that is how I pronounced it) and she was always helping her best friend, Maxi, with everything. They would eat all their meals together, they would sit in the sun on the patio together, and they would do crafts together. They both had sun bonnets that Bunny would take care of for the both of them. Maxi suffered from terrible arthritis in her hands and could not even hold a fork to feed herself. That is where her best friend Bunny stepped in, food would be served and Bunny would serve Maxi first, then herself.  Whatever Maxi needed Bunny would do for her. It was great being able to volunteer and get to know each of them because I help assist Bunny with all her duties with Maxi so she was able to focus on her own needs. They had the best smiles and were always so thankful to each other and anyone and everyone who helped them. It was amazing to see the kindness and love that each of these women had for each other and those around you. The struggles all these women had dealt with throughout the years will never compare to struggles of our own country, and to see their wonderful attitude and love for everyone else was remarkable.

In a sentence or less, best advice for fitting in with the local culture
I would say to be very open minded. All cultures around the world are different and for many reasons, accept each culture for its own uniqueness and learning about all our differences is very enlightening. Don’t try to implement your country’s way to do things, just help offer your services in assisting with that country’s way to do things.  This will allow you to experience something like never before and be able to create a relationship with those around you that wouldn’t be able to have if you were focused on other things.

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Related Post:
Meet Katie, a University of Alabama undergrad from Tuscaloosa, who volunteered in Cartago, Costa Rica with UBELONG on the caregiving project.

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