Name: Taryn Betson
Hometown: Bancroft, Canada
Languages spoken: English, French (intermediate), Spanish (beginner)
University: Nipissing University
Bachelors: Criminology and Con-Ed
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Kindergarten teaching in Cusco, Peru
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: April 2017
Claim to fame: There are many instances in Taryn’s life that she has proven excellent work ethic, smarts, and cultural sensitivity. She knows she is a good worker because she loves to work. Welcome to the UBELONG Family, Taryn!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to become a UBELONG Volunteer because I wanted to have the experience of travelling on my own and immersing myself in a totally new culture. My past travel experience includes going on tropical vacations (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico) with my sister and mother, so this was a huge step out of my comfort zone. I also love teaching and am in school for my bachelor of education so I thought that it would be something great to add to my resume and to have the experience of teaching young children. When I decided to join the UBELONG Family, I was starting my second semester of my first year of university and wanted to do something at the end of the school year that didn’t include going straight to work. My first thought was going somewhere tropical and lying on a beach for a week like most of my other classmates did; but I wanted to do something more meaningful and do something that mattered. And so I applied to become a UBELONG Volunteer!
What did you find most rewarding from your volunteer experience?
The most rewarding aspect of my volunteer experience was seeing how fast the kids that I taught could learn and retain the English that I was teaching them. The classroom teacher that I was placed with was one of the only teachers that could speak and understand a little bit of English, so there was lots of opportunity for me to teach English to the kids. I taught them numbers up to thirty, body parts (head and shoulders, knees and toes song), and colors. It was difficult for them to remember the English words for the first 2 or 3 days but after that I would come to school in the morning and they would start singing the song or they would count in English and cheer for me to teach them more. I was so upset to leave because I didn’t want them to forget what I had taught them.
In addition to teaching the kids, the experience of travelling on my own was also a very rewarding experience and seeing Machu Picchu, hiking up Rainbow Mountain, and boating on Lake Titicaca were all very enriching experiences. I am so glad that I stepped outside of my comfort zone because it was the trip of a lifetime and I can’t wait for my next adventure!
What three pieces of advice would you give to a future UBELONG Volunteer?
- Don’t be scared to ask for help, ask as many questions as you need, speak a different language, try a different food, and meet new people.
- Just step out of your comfort zone and make the most of your time away! Don’t live by your guidebook. Meet the locals, ask fellow travelers for hot locations, or off the beaten path adventures.
- If you’re Canadian make sure (if you’re going to Peru) that your passport doesn’t expire for 9 months after your departure date. I had a mix up with my passport LAST minute right in the middle of my exam season and had to apply for a new passport and thought I would not be able to go but everything worked out and we were able to leave on time.