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 changing experiences

Honestly I had no preconceptions going into this volunteering experience. I expected it to be difficult, sad and rewarding. I expected to come back stronger, grateful, and in love with the children I taught, all of which happened. I was profoundly impacted and changed forever from my experience. The only thing that is keeping me from returning next year is the financial commitment.

I would have to say everything was noteworthy, the culture, teaching, sharing a home with my host family, working in the Venda community, and without a doubt the beauty of South Africa. I learned that despite the differences in our cultures and governments, the people of Venda are some of the most loving people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I felt like family. It very quickly became a second home.

I overcame challenges that arose by communicating with my advisors and my local host family. They helped narrow the gap between myself and the people I was directly working with and where there for me if I needed anything.

I learned that I am stronger than I ever imagined, and that I can conquer and face most any challenge that may come my way. I also learned that I have the ability to make a difference in the lives of children and others who may be less fortunate than myself. I learned that one person can make a difference, and that no matter how small the contribution may seem, even a tiny ripple can inspire others to join in making our world a more loving and compassionate place.

For me, experiencing a more rural and authentic part of Africa was the best part of my experience. I wanted to gain as much knowledge of that part of the world that I could.

You leave there wanting to do so much more. It broke my heart. I fell in love with each and every one of the children. Their sweet faces will be with me the rest of my life.”

Karen, Kansas, U.S.A.