Name: Meghan Sobbott
Hometown: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Nationality: United States
Occupation: Fine Gardener at Parterre Garden Services
Languages spoken: English
Past travel experience: Moderate
Volunteer Abroad: Urban Reforestation in Merida, Mexico
Duration: 2 weeks
Start month: January 2017
Claim to fame: Meghan studied abroad in New Zealand for one month. Welcome to the UBELONG Family!
Why did you decide to become a UBELONG Volunteer?
Back home in the US I work as a gardener and during the winter months from January to March my services are not needed and because of this I decided that volunteering abroad would be a great way to build a connection to other communities while also escaping from the cold. I found UBELONG through a friend of mine and after looking through several other volunteer programs decided that UBELONG Mexico offered everything I was looking for.
What was your impact on your volunteer project?
I was working in the Urban Reforestation project but the project also included components of environmental education, which I really enjoyed. My time spent volunteering was a mix of both educating young students about the importance of the environment as well as helping with the upkeep of the nursery itself. When school groups did not come to the greenhouse my days included repotting plants into larger pots and watering the plants. It was often repetitive but always fun to work with the greenhouse manager Foster.
What advice would you tell a future volunteer?
The best advice I could give is to go with the flow of the culture and embrace new experiences. Coming from the US and a culture that focuses on having every minute of the day planned out I struggled at first having so much free time on my hands but after observing the Mexican culture I was able to relax and see the importance of just sitting and enjoying that moment rather than constantly thinking about my next plan. Some days I would just walk to the main square and sit on a bench and people would come over and start a conversation with me. I met so many wonderful and interesting people this way.
In a sentence or less, best advice for fitting in with the local culture?
Be curious and get lost. Merida has so many wonderful things to offer if you go out and explore.