Name: Abi Seewald
Hometown: Edmonton, Canada
Languages spoken: English, French (intermediate)
University: University of Alberta
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for Children From Poor Backgrounds in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: December 2017
Claim to fame: In the future, Abi wants to be involved with Medecins Sans Frontier (Doctors Without Borders). Welcome to the UBELONG Family, Abi! 🙂
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I have always been someone who wishes to travel the globe and experience other cultures and because of that, international volunteering has been an interest. When I was researching potential organizations I came across UBELONG and liked the choices in volunteering locations it presented. Ultimately, I chose UBELONG because of what the organization stood for; we are there to serve not be served. We often here of other students going abroad to volunteer and spending most of their time touring around and taking advantage of being in a foreign country. Although I appreciate a nice trip that is filled with adventures, I wanted to take a volunteer trip that had a bigger focus on the impact volunteering could have.
What did you take from the experience?
My time in Vietnam was relatively short but I still had an invaluable experience that I will never regret. The people I came across, volunteers and locals alike, were the most genuine and welcoming individuals that I have met. Working with these people and playing with the kids at the orphanages helped me open my mind to such vast differences in culture and also realize the similarities that students and kids share even all the way across the globe.
What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
Even from the first day no matter how out of your comfort zone it may feel at first, say yes to every opportunity that presents itself. Many of my most valued memories came from times that I was hesitant at first but pushed myself to do for the simple reason of why not? A message that was repeated to me over and over again from UBELONG and other volunteer testimonies was to keep an open mind. And that is what led me to embrace the experience and the time I had there so much.
In a sentence or less, what did you think about the food?
I miss it….and now I’m hungry again.