A UBELONG Volunteer in Cambodia at the ngo support project

“Be open, observing and adapt to the new culture.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Marina Kortseli
Age: 35
Hometown: Athens, Greece
Nationality: Greece
Languages spoken: Greek, English (fluent), Spanish (fluent), Portuguese (fluent)
Degree: Diploma in Project Management at Griffiths College
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Strengthening NGO Capacity in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: November 2017
Claim to fame: A native of Greece, Marina has lived in Brazil, Spain and Ireland! Welcome to the UBELONG Family 🙂

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
My passion for helping others and being open to new experiences led me to decide and become a UBELONG Volunteer. Thus offering a variety of flexible programs UBELONG made my dream come true: connect with other cultures and bring a positive impact to different communities by broadened my knowledge and challenging myself at the same time.

What was your impact on your volunteer project?
I was helping a local NGO that works to reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS and improve the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIV) and those affected by the disease. My project focused on improving a grant proposal. Having experience in projects, I created a project plan and a first draft helping the NGO to make a different approach to the proposal. Having meetings, share my knowledge and work as a team it was a pleasure to see how the confidence of the staff increased and helped them to understand things more organized so they can continue their job for the future. I didn’t change the world but definitely, the value I have put on that work even for a short time that you could see on the staff faces was precious.

What were your major challenges?
The communication with locals was one of the significant challenges. As most people in Cambodia don’t speak English, daily conversations, in the beginning, were difficult. In the beginning, you need to be patient. Learning some necessary words in Khmer helped especially if you need to bargain. No need to be afraid and express yourself even if you don’t speak correctly. People are so friendly and smile all the time. Of course, the local Volunteer Team helped us a lot as they provided safety guidelines regarding the culture. Being open, observing and adapting to the new culture I wholly enjoyed it!

In a sentence or less, what was your funniest moment?
I don’t remember a specific funny moment but the time spending on discovering Cambodia in my free time with other volunteers was undoubtedly full of fun!

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Related post:
Meet Fabio Mosimann, a University of St. Gallen grad, who volunteered with UBELONG in the NGO support project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.