Name: Nate Wapner
Hometown: Lexington, Virginia
Nationality: United States
Languages spoken: English and Spanish (intermediate)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Microfinance and Income Generation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 6 weeks
Start month: November 2014
Claim to fame: Nate grew up on an organic farm in rural Virginia.
Do you have a favorite memory from your experience volunteering that you still remember fondly today? If so, what is it?
Favorite memories would have to be all of the different Cambodians I really connected with. I met one guy at my work who took me with him for an agricultural training program, where we rode motorbikes for 2 hours into the Cambodian countryside to teach farmers on proper rice growing methods. I also bonded with Sreng, the Local Team Leader, as well as a woman in my organization who wanted to work on her English!
Looking back on your volunteering experience, do you feel you grew from the experience? If so, how?
Wow, where do I start. I deeply appreciate living and working in the USA after seeing how people live and work abroad. Also our laws system makes me feel safe here. I saw a man get jumped on the street by 10 guys on bikes, who just rode off, leaving him battered. The security guard standing at the restaurant across the street did nothing. I also feel like I really connected with the idea that people everywhere are people, and have the same basic wants and desires. I also learned that education may be one of the most important life-changing factors in the world.
Fighting the social and environmental problems that UBELONG Volunteers tackle is enormous work. They’re but a small piece of a much broader and more complex solution. However, what do you think is the biggest benefit of having international volunteers serve abroad?
Sharing culture, and making the world a smaller place to encourage understanding between people and countries to fight bigotry and discrimination.