Name: Pauline Huber
Hometown: Eiselfing, Germany
Languages spoken: German, English (fluent), French (advanced)
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for Children with Disabilities in Hanoi, Vietnam
Duration: 8 weeks
Start month: September 2018
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I knew that I wanted to do volunteer work during my gap year, because I felt like I had to contribute something to the community. So I did some research in the internet and came across UBELONG. The concept, that UBELONG works together with local partners, really convinced me and, in addition, from all the research I did, UBELONG seemed to be very trustworthy which was important to both my parents and me. Also, all the interviews and reviews I read sounded great, so I decided to join this organisation and became a UBELONG Volunteer. In the end, I could not have imagined a better two months in Hanoi and could not have been happier about joining UBELONG, which made all of this possible.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
During the first days, I noticed that my expectations on me and on the children were too high. I worked with very young children with different disabilities so it took some time to figure out what to do and what the needs of every single child were. In addition, the resources they have in the center are very limited, so the kids can not just walk out of the room and get rid of their energy on a playground or in a park, for example, because there is none. So basically what I tried was to come up with new activities the children could do such as balancing or jumping exercises and therefore give the teachers new ideas and methods to work, show them that it is sometimes important to be more patient instead of forcing the kids to eat, e.g… But for me, the most remarkable impact was the fact that you got really attached to each other. The children gave me so much trust and showed so much affection and, on the other side, I realized that they became more and more important to me so I really had to leave with a heavy heart.
What is your favorite memory?
My favorite memory is our trip to the zoo. Even if it was a little stressful with all the kids and even if we needed 5 adults to look after 9 children, it was a funny and nice experience. Some of the children were not really interested in the animals but still it was amazing to see the children outside once in a while, to do little races and to feed deer with leaves. All in all this was a day I will not forget soon!
In a sentence or less, what was your funniest moment?
Following the love story of one boy in our class who was deeply in love with the only girl.