What is it like to be a volunteer?
volunteer handbook tries to give the prospective volunteer an indication as to
what volunteering will be like. It tries to give the volunteer a flavour of the
highs and lows that will face a volunteer in-country. There are compulsory (and
non-compulsory) weekend training courses that attempt to do the same (Preparing
for Change, for instance).
As much as you hear the words of VSO and the return
volunteers - 'it was a rewarding experience, but it had its difficulties...' -
they don't sink in properly until you actually have the experience yourself (and
sometimes return volunteers can be guilty of glossing over any negative experiences
they have had).
This section, therefore, is about correlating VSO's cautionary
words with some of the challenging times I experienced. It is not about ridiculing
these words; it is more about explaining (as best I can) what these words really
Again, it is still someone else's experience and you may still not
be able to make a connection, but at least I can explain how a straightforward
situation actually affected me. No one can expect to live for two years without
experiencing difficulties, wherever you live - but there are difficulties and
Again, this are my experiences, and they affected me because
of who I am. They may not affect you at all, but then something else might instead.
It can take you by surprise.
A real benefit of volunteering, I feel, is
this process of self-rediscovery.
So, watch this space!