Name: Emma Scott
Hometown: Moscow, Idaho
Nationality: United States
University: University of Idaho
Degree: Anthropology and International Studies
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (beginner)
Past travel experience: Newbie
Volunteer Abroad: Supporting efforts to stop child labor in Accra, Ghana
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: June 2017
Claim to fame: Emma worked as the public outreach coordinator for the Fort Boise Archaeology Project (FBAP) in Idaho and enjoys being a dancer/drummer in World Beat, University of Idaho’s West African drumming ensemble. Very impressive, Emma!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I have always wanted to travel to Ghana, and when the moment came I took full advantage of it. I decided to go on a month long study abroad trip to Ghana where I would be traveling around and experiencing the culture through drumming and dancing workshops. One of my professor’s recommended UBELONG because I told him I wanted to extend my trip to give back to the community. After reading about the different projects in Accra and also looking more at the mission and values of UBELONG, that’s when I decided to be a UBELONG Volunteer. The human rights and law project in Ghana immediately grabbed my attention. Being able to work with child labor and trafficking was a sensitive area, but something I really hoped to have an impact on.
Before traveling to Ghana, I had never been outside of the US. UBELONG provided me with an inexpensive and positively impactful experience that I wouldn’t have been able to get by just sitting on my couch at home.
What did you find most rewarding from you volunteer experience?
Not knowing much about the culture and being a foreigner I wondered what impact I would actually have on a community in Ghana, but my experience turned out to be much more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. One of the most rewarding parts would be the first-hand experience I gained. On the child labor project we would go down to the sea shore where children were often working for the fisherman. Among the many kids we talked to, I met a seven year old boy whose parents took him to the shore to work because they couldn’t afford to pay for his schooling. Seeing the issues face to face provides a sense of purpose and meaning, but it also creates a connection between the volunteers and those in the community being served.
What three pieces of advice would you give to a future UBELONG Volunteer?
- Experience the culture. Realize that you aren’t going to be familiar with the people, food and traditions in the area. Try new things, be challenged and let your mind and heart be open.
- Challenge yourself. If I was certain of one thing going into my volunteer experience, it was that I would definitely be challenged. Prepare to challenge yourself physically and emotionally, but in the best ways.
- Take a deep breath. Relax. Expect for things to be unexpected and go with the flow. You aren’t in Kansas anymore so it is okay to take it day by day. While you will be challenged, it is okay to take a step back when you need it.