Name: Rachel Rosenberg
Nationality: United States
University: Texas A&M University
Degree: Chemical Engineering
Languages spoken: English, Spanish (beginner)
Past travel experience: Avid
Volunteer Abroad: Teaching English in Quito, Ecuador
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: July 2014
Claim to fame: Went to Italy with the Champe Fitzhugh International Leadership Seminar for National Merit Finalists at Texas A&M University.
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
I decided that I wanted to volunteer internationally this past summer and started doing research. UBELONG had the best website by far and seemed the most credible; there are tons and tons of options for companies to go through online, but UBELONG set itself apart from the others because of its professionalism and very high “not a scam” factor.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
My impact on the project itself was just making the kids a little happier and being a positive role model. I don’t think any of them learned any English from me, but they got loved on a whole lot. There were a couple of times that I caught individuals being bullies or being non inclusive, and I would like to think that I helped teach them that it was wrong, but my Spanish probably wasn’t good enough to get the point across (and I definitely wasn’t there long enough to change anyone’s attitude). I tried my best with those kids, but I felt like the whole trip had such a greater impact on me. I am so much more thankful and aware now than I was before, and I made memories that I will never forget as long as I live. The adventure was fantastic, and I really really hope that some of the kids maybe remember me and were changed by me a fraction of the amount that I was changed by them.
What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
I would tell them to say yes! It’s so easy to be tired and make excuses to stay in the house in the afternoons and on weekends, but how boring. Some of the best days we had were days that we explored things that weren’t touristy. There is so, so much to do (not just in Ecuador but in the world); I could have stayed in Quito for months and still had something new to do every day. The adventure is out there, but it isn’t going to come grab you from the house and whisk you away.
In a sentence or less, how would you describe the locals you met?
In more than a sentence– The locals were fantastic. They were so sweet to us all the time, even with a significant language barrier and with no reason to be nice. In Quito, the locals were not great, and it made it so much better when the people in Tumbaco and especially our host family just opened up to us and made a huge effort to make sure we were comfortable.