“One step at a time, we can bring a smile, hug a child, spread joy.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Emily Higinbotham
Age: 38
Hometown: Olathe, Kansas
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English
University: Belmont University
Master: Vocal Pedagogy
Occupation: Project Manager at Creative Consumer Concepts
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Assisting at an after-school center in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 1 week
Start month: June 2016
Claim to fame: Emily believes that it is a basic human right to be treated with dignity and respect. Thank you for your service, Emily!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
It’s so very easy to get wrapped up in your small little corner of the world. I believe that two of the most important ways one grows is through service and perspective. Not only is it important for my own personal growth, but it’s as important now to teach my five year old daughter these same life lessons. I am also very fortunate that I work for man who values these same things and affords his employees such opportunities. It was these two things that aligned and started my journey to find an organization that I believed shared my vision. Enter UBELONG!

Tell me about somebody who impressed you.
I was extremely impressed with on-site coordinator, Sergio, from the moment I met him. As is common international traveling, we had major delays and hiccups on our flights to Cusco that caused me and my travel partner to arrive at different times. I called Sergio the moment I landed and knew immediately he had everything covered. At our orientation, he was extremely organized and well prepared in talking us through the basics of our stay and assignment. I have to say this was one of my biggest reliefs as I had read stories of other organizations who provided little information, leaving you lost and unsure. The entire stay, he was attentive to your personal needs (especially your health), diligent about his job and committed to the UBELONG cause. He and his wife Gaye were jewels, and I hope we can keep in touch!

What was your impact on your volunteer project?
This is so hard because it’s presumptuous to believe that you can change the world in a week (and with very little Spanish!). But while I was there, it really hit me for the first time that it takes all of us doing our part to make a difference. One step at a time, we can bring a smile, hug a child, spread joy. There is one special memory I will take with me. Because the company I work for makes toys, we were able to take a huge box of toys to give to the children. Every day we would bring different toys and watch their faces and imaginations light up as we played. My hope is that long after we’re gone, there is a memory of us attached to those toys and our time in Cusco.

In a sentence of less, best packing advice.
Take carry-ons only and some things you can leave there to make room for souvenirs!

Your turn to join the best: apply now

Related post:
Meet Ryan, a young professional from Maryland, who volunteered in Cusco, Peru with UBELONG on the caregiving project.