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“The sense of community I received being part of the UBELONG Family was really special.”

UBELONG

UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Brian Delaporte
Age: 25
Hometown: Hoboken, New Jersey
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (beginner)
University: James Madison University
Bachelor: Media Arts and Design
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for children with disabilities in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 1 week
Start month: April 2016
Claim to fame: Brian has always led an active and busy lifestyle. Like all UBELONG Volunteers, Brian is a cut above the rest!

Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Going on a service based trip has always been super appealing to me. More than anything, I knew I would be surrounded by well traveled individuals, far more traveled than myself. What I didn’t know was how warm and open all off the volunteers we stayed with would be. Some were from Germany, others from the States like myself. Becoming a volunteer provided me with an opportunity to meet people I would have never met otherwise. The sense of community I received from both doing my research and experiencing what it was like to be part of the UBELONG family first hand, was really special. It was something that drew me to the organization right away. Working with children with developmental disabilities, and making even the slightest bit of a difference in their lives for a limited amount of time, was extremely rewarding.

Tell me about somebody you met who impressed you?
Someone who really impressed me was a fellow volunteer named Oliver Hull. Oliver and I stayed in the same hostel, and right away he was extremely inclusive and open. He and the group who were also staying at the same hostel, immediately took us in as part of their inner circle and gave us all types of tips for traveling throughout Peru, the best spots to go eat, have a drink and to explore. Without Oliver and that group of people, my trip would not have been nearly as memorable or fulfilling.

What really impressed me most about Oliver was that he was 19 years of age. He decided to take a year off in between graduating high school and going to college, to travel and volunteer. He had already been to South Africa and a few other places throughout the world, all in less than a year’s time and at such a young age. Not to mention, Oliver had already been accepted as a student at the University of Maryland for the fall of 2016. I was blown away at his maturity level, demeanor and confidence. It takes a lot of self discipline to take a year off from schooling, and still follow through in pursuit of a degree.

What is your favorite memory?
One person I’ll never forget was a boy named Lucio I worked with while volunteering. Unlike most of the students, Lucio was mobile and able to commute basic wants and needs. Lucio’s personality was big and bold, and it was difficult for staff members to control his actions and behavior. Many times and unknowingly, he would get physical with the other students. It was his way of seeking the love and attention he really longed for and needed on a daily basis. Much of my time spent was with Lucio, getting him out and about and shaking off some of that pent up energy he always seemed to have, and that would get him into trouble.

Something I learned quickly was that Lucio loved to bang on things, and touch everything. Anything he could get his hands on, he would. There was a fenced-in garden in the courtyard, and within that garden was a long-stem flower that grew fairly tall. To keep anything from harming the flower, a tin sheet was loosely wrapped around the flower for protection. Naturally, Lucio always attempted to derail the tin sheet and get to the flower. Though unsuccessful, what he inevitability stumbled upon was the sound the tin sheet made when he would hit it. He loved that sound, and anytime we would go outside he’d run straight to the tin sheet in the garden and bang away. Noticing this, I would play the tin sheet like a set of bongos for Lucio. When he realized what I was doing, he would join in and we’d play the “bongos” together. The music soothed his mood and channeled his energy into one task and concept, which really seemed to help with his discipline and behavioral issues. The sound, the music was therapeutic for him. It’s one of the coolest, most heartfelt bonding moments of my life, and something I’ll never forget.

In a sentence or less, what was your funniest moment?
A deaf man gave me an Alpaca key chain, and then took it back because I had no money to give him.

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Related post:
Meet Kaephas Kain, an IT Director from Austin, who volunteered with UBELONG at the caregiving project in Cusco, Peru.

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