“Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.”


UBELONG Snapshot
Name: Jessica Gustin
Age: 20
Hometown: Las Cruces, New Mexico
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (beginner)
University: New Mexico State University
Bachelors: Agricultural Extension Education
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Elementary School Teaching in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 3 weeks
Start month: May 2016
Claim to fame: In her application to join us, Jessica expressed her belief that helping someone is truly a blessing and will always be a way to shine light and help others grow to their potential. We love that Jessica, and you exemplified that through your service with us!

What was your impact on your volunteer project?
My impact on my project was building a connection with the students and the school itself. Knowing that the kids remembered my name or that the teachers appreciated my help was a very rewarding feeling. At first I didn’t think I was making a difference, it was all new, the students didn’t really care I was there etc. but as the days progressed the students began coming to me for help or just to talk. My last day with my project was bitter sweet, I was happy to be coming home, but I was going to miss the students. As I was leaving the kids were saying they were going to miss me and I was getting many hugs. In that moment I knew I made a small impact, I did not change the world but with those students I left a small imprint.

What did you take from the experience?
When I was traveling to Cusco, I was very nervous the whole plane ride and I did not know what to expect. This experience was my first time out of the country and by myself, so I was really going to have to step out of my comfort zone. Entering into a place that I have no familiarity with taught me a lot about myself both in and out of my project. I know that because of my experience with the students and other volunteers I am a changed person and I will forever be grateful for this opportunity.

What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
To any future volunteers I would advise to take in every moment. Being able to travel internationally and make an impact while being there is a blessing in itself. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and look for some way to grow as a person. After the experience you have, you will be a different person. Also don’t be afraid to experience every part of the town’s culture and uniqueness. This might be the only time you have to visit that place, make the most out of it.

In a sentence or less, what did you think about the food?
The food was good – all very fresh and healthy, it was really delicious.

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Related post:
Meet Emily Higinbotham, Project Manager at Creative Consumer Concepts, who volunteered with UBELONG at the caregiving project in Cusco, Peru.