Name: Andrew Gula
Hometown: Duncanville, Texas
Nationality: United States
University: University of Texas at San Antonio
Languages spoken: English, Romanian (fluent)
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Caring for Disadvantaged Youth in Merida, Mexico
Duration: 1 week
Start month: July 2017
Claim to fame: While in high school, Andrew volunteered hundred of hours of his time at the school’s tennis program. Wonderful to have you in the UBELONG Family, Andrew!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I was originally searching for study abroad – volunteer trips where I could travel and help somewhere. Everywhere I looked including university-sponsored was very expensive so I wasn’t sure what to choose. I kept searching and found UBELONG! When I first found UBELONG, it offered exactly what I was looking for and it came at a great price. It also offered great schedule flexibility which allowed me to make it happen this summer!
What did you find most rewarding from you volunteer experience?
I think overall the whole trip is very rewarding but for me it was the kids. Being able to work with the most behaved kids I had ever worked with was amazing. The daycare teachers were very friendly and patient with me since I knew very little Spanish. It was really nice and sad by the end because at first some of the kids were really shy and wouldn’t even wave back at me, but by the end of the week they were all joking with me and sad to watch me go. I was able to teach them about Ultimate frisbee and I learned some fun new games from the staff as well.
Also UBELONG is great at providing all the necessary accommodations needed for your trip. I was able to easily show up to my site every morning early with a nice short walk over. All the staff from the hostel to the daycare were amazing and made the whole experience smooth and even better.
What three pieces of advice would you give to a future UBELONG Volunteer?
1) I would say come in with an open curious mindset, it helps you prepare for however the trip may be and also is the right mindset to handle the first couple of days there.
2) Make friends with the other volunteers there. When I first came, I didn’t know anyone or the language but the other volunteers all quickly befriended and showed me around. It really made the week better and easier.
3) Make the most of the whole trip and experience and immerse yourself in their culture. I know I had some moments that weren’t the best but overall it was amazing. Looking back I would gladly do it over again in a heartbeat.
Get to know our Volunteer House in Mexico!