“What works for us at home might not work for the locals here.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Nai Huang
Age: 30
Hometown: New Westminster
Nationality: Canada
Occupation: Occupational Therapist at Fraser Health
Languages spoken: English, Mandarin (fluent)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for disabled children in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: December 2014
Claim to fame: Nai previously volunteered in a medical mission in Peru.

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I had a valuable volunteer experience in Peru 5 years ago with a Christian volunteer organization. I decided to become a UBELONG Volunteer because it was a right fit for the type of project I was looking for with a flexible schedule. Not many volunteer organizations offer health care projects with flexible start and end dates.

What did you take from the experience?
I learnt not to compare how things were done back at home and impose them to my volunteer project, as what works for us at home might not work for the locals here. Instead, work with the local team to modify the method that it is realistic for them to sustain for long term.

It is not an ideal practice to feed children, who have challenges with swallowing, in lying down. However, with only 1 staff to feed 8 children with swallowing difficulties and with limited resources, it is difficult to reinforce the ideal practice we see back at home. Instead of asking the local staff to do what we know is the best of practice for feeding, we worked together with the local staff to figure out the best way we can reduce the risk of aspiration with the limited resources we have.

What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
Respect and understand the local history and culture. After learning more about Cambodia’s history and culture, it really helped me to put things into perspective. It helped me to understand why things are the way they are right now without judgment.

In a sentence or less, best advice for fitting in with the local culture?
Be open minded.

Your turn to join the best: apply now

Related post:
Meet Jarusha Rosenthal-Kambic, a young professional from the United States who volunteered with UBELONG in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on the caregiving project.