Name: Mariely Luz
University: University of Adelaide and Universidade Estadual do Maranhao
Degree: Architecture Design
Languages spoken: Portuguese, English (advanced), Spanish (beginner)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Building, Renovating and Handywork in Vang Vieng, Laos
Duration: 4 weeks
Start month: November 2014
Claim to fame: Studied abroad in Australia for a year and a half!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I was living in Australia during one year and I was always having the opportunity to travel to Asia. Fortunately, in one of my last trips, I met many volunteers that were helping in house constructions in a devastated village in Philippines. Back to Australia, by the end of this wonderful travel, I decided to come back to Asia again and realize one of my dreams that I couldn’t make happen years before: become a volunteer. So, I started a long research about programs and countries that were asking for work. This way I ended up with the UBELONG program, choosing Laos as my destination and working with construction and building.
What were your major challenges?
In the beginning of the experience, despite of all the information about Laos that I already knew, one of my biggest challenges was to get used with the different forms of work. I already had different experiences in diverse Asian cities, but experienced Laos and being a volunteer were unique. I couldn’t imagine that I would be learning so many things and techniques surrounded by so many lovely and amazing people that made my days in the farm and construction easier. Now, I think that my major challenge will be to do not give up on volunteering and fight for better life conditions.
What did you take from the experience?
During all the days passed in my four weeks in Laos, I could realize that I was becoming a better human being because I was simply living a unique opportunity. I started to be more patient and resilient. I started to accept that every person has its own way of being and its own beliefs. The kindness of the locals enhanced my beliefs that the humans still can do better things for the world and for their own society. We just need to have more courage to break our own comfort zone and be more grateful for every moment and happening in our lives.
In a sentence or less, how would you describe local life?
“In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you” (Buddha). I couldn’t be more grateful of having experienced so much kindness and love in so many small details in Laos.