Name: Wasiliki Pitouli
Hometown: Welzheim, Germany
University: University of Applied Sciences Pforzheim
Languages spoken: German, Greek, English (fluent), Spanish (beginner)
Past travel experience: Newbie
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for Disadvantaged Youth in Merida, Mexico
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: October 2016
Claim to fame: Wasiliki spent 4 weeks at a language school in Galway, Ireland and further two weeks traveling around the country. Welcome to the UBELONG family 🙂
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Mexico was one of my biggest dreams. I wanted to discover the country, language and culture. And a good way to learn about the people and culture is to live and work with them. So I decided to look for a volunteer program in Mexico. During my search I heard about UBELONG and started to „study“ their homepage. The wealth of information and experience reports from people around the world and the opportunity to contact them (e.g. via Facebook) made a reputable impression. UBELONG also responded always quickly and so I had a few days later my first skype-meeting with Martina. All in one: From the beginning I had a good feeling with choosing UBELONG. I always felt informed, taken seriously and understood.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
I think that I still cannot answer this question to 100%. I helped the teacher and cared for the children wherever I could but on the other hand it feels sometimes like it was not enough. How I say, I helped and did whatever I could, but thinking into the future they need much more. It is a conflict. As a volunteer you support them as much as you can for a limited period and they need this help and are thankful for it (and it is much better than no help) and the children are so interested and happy to see people from all over the world and to learn about them and maybe open their eyes for new countries and cultures but on the other hand I know that the orphanage need much more resources to be able to provide the best possible for the kids (education, reintegration etc.). I know that it is not in my hands, but this is the reason because I see it in this way. I wish I could help much more, and this sustainable. The experience was great and I would recommended everyone to do it and help whenever and wherever they can, because to help people in different places where they really need it is always for both sides a valuable experience.
What were your major challenges?
The first days. In the beginning everything is and looks different, but at the same point it is one of the most beautiful aspects of traveling. Furthermore it was the language for me. Almost nobody spoke English at the orphanage and my Spanish is not really good. After a few days it became better and better and you found ways to communicate (with some Spanish words and gestures).
In a sentence or less, best advice for fitting in with the local culture?