Name: Kayla VanderWall
Hometown: Munster, Indiana
Nationality: United States
University: Midwestern University
Degree: Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies
Occupation: Nurse Technician
Languages spoken: English and Spanish (intermediate)
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Medical Assistance in Quito, Ecuador
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: April 2017
Claim to fame: In her current job as a Nursing Technician in the Emergency Department, Kayla’s supervisors have constantly noted her strong work ethic, ability to take initiative, and positive attitude in all situations. A true UBELONGer!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to become a UBELONG Volunteer because I wanted to give back to the community and do something adventurous before starting PA school. After looking into many organizations, UBELONG was definitely the most flexible and I loved being able to choose my location, project, and how long I would serve.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
My impact on my volunteer project was always displaying a positive attitude and giving 100% in no matter what I was helping out with.
What were your major challenges?
A major challenge I had was not having a phone because it broke the second day I got there. I had no other camera, so not being able to capture the beauty of Ecuador was difficult for me. It also prevented me from going out and experiencing some things that I might have normally done if I had a phone to use for emergencies and guidance (wifi willing, of course).
What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory was the day I went hiking in the rain forest at Mindo. It was the most beautiful hike I’ve ever been on, and swimming in the waterfalls was amazing. However, when I went to swim in one of the waterfalls, I set my backpack down on a ledge, and when I returned, my backpack, which had all of my money, phone, and keys in it, was gone. I freaked out, and started running through the jungle in hopes of finding it. Five minutes later, I ran into this huge group of people who began shouting at me. I realized that this man in the middle of the group was holding up my (somewhat shredded) backpack. It had fallen down one of the waterfalls, and one of the guys on the other side had dove in to save it.
That moment when I realized he had my backpack was my favorite memory in Ecuador. Even though a lot of my stuff had fallen out of my backpack, my keys, wallet, and water damaged phone were still there.