Name: Bianca Neumaier
Hometown: Simbach am Inn, Germany
University: Ebs Business School
Degree: Science in General Management
Languages spoken: German, English (fluent), Italian (advanced), Spanish (beginner)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Strengthening NGO Capacity in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Duration: 5 weeks
Start month: February 2017
Claim to fame: During her time at the Ebs Business School, Bianca was the head of the project “Help for the Homeless”. This meant collecting bread from a local bakery and drive it to Frankfurt and give food to homeless people. Great work, Bianca 🙂
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided to do a gap year after graduating, so, after I completed an internship in the financial sector I simply needed a change and wanted to do something good. I always wanted to visit Cambodia, but was afraid to do so alone. Due to that I had the idea to volunteer there. UBELONG offered me the opportunity to combine these things, as well as meet new people from all over the world, which is always something great.
What did you find most rewarding from you volunteer experience?
I worked in a very small NGO, which helps Indigenous People in Cambodia. On my first day my manager asked me if I could also teach some English to the staff, which I was happy to do. In the beginning it was quite hard and the women I taught were a bit scared of talking to me and making mistakes while doing so. After around three weeks of our daily class I started to notice major differences. Suddenly they started talking about their weekend plans, asked me about mine and were pretty passionate about what I still had to do and visit in their country. Seeing them evolve from being scared to explaining me their culture and seeing their confidence grow with every class was one of the most rewarding things I have experienced!
What three pieces of advice would you give to a future UBELONG Volunteer?
1) Be open. It sounds so easy, but it isn’t. You’re going to work in a different culture, with different rules, which might go against what you have learned. Just be open and happy to learn new things.
2) Be active. I originally was supposed to do only office work in the NGO. But, in the end my English classes and the interaction were the best parts of my day. If you have an idea, even if it’s a small one, let them know. It might change a lot.
3) Be happy. Cambodia was pretty much of a culture shock for me. But, I decided to see this as something positive and something I could strive of. You only have a limited time frame, so be happy, and enjoy!