Travel Log #12 “Service” By Andrew Rivera Munich, Germany

The definition of volunteer is to freely offer to do something, and to work for an organization without being paid. And prior to volunteering I was really not looking forward to giving up my time to volunteer, but I saw how fast circumstances would change. I chose to volunteer at a ACIDH, which stands for Catalan Association of integration and human development (this is the English translation of the association). This organization helps kids that are have borderline intelligence. Their mission statement is, “to improve the quality of life of people with limited intelligence, through comprehensive care, regardless of its etiology and whether there is some other disorder.” The impact that they have on these kids’ lives is immense, and they give the kids and environment that they can strive in and feel comfortable.

Since I don’t know any Spanish the great people that I met decided it would be perfect for me to be in an English class, where the students are learning the basics of our language. Since the first day the kids were really excited to have an American in their class and they made me feel like one of them. All of them love communicating with me and love it when I walk in the door every Monday, no matter what mood they are in they always say my name with enthusiasm and a big smile on their face. All of their actions towards me make volunteering all worthwhile, even for a short amount of time.

Some of the benefits of volunteering are making an impact on the kids that you interact with every week. I know for a fact that I will always remember every single one of them and I hope that all of them will always remember me. Even though we are from different countries and have different backgrounds we were still brought together and we put everything else aside. I also get to know some more Catalan and Spanish which will help me when interacting with people who only speak Spanish. The service work that I have done with the kids is directly related to global community. Specifically, for one class I had to put together a presentation about myself and life back in the states, and the kids had to tell me a little about them. They were so intrigued about my life back at home, and I learned what they liked. There I was learning about their culture and vice versa. This experience really changed my outlook on volunteering, and improved my experience abroad. Every Monday I really looked forward to going to class to help the students learn English.

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This picture describes my experience because I am working with kids, and really making a difference in their lives. The quote that I liked the best was from Slimbach. He said, “The first step in this journey is to venture outside our comfort zones and get involved directly and personally in the lives of others, especially those occupying the margins of society…to create respectful and mutually beneficial relationships.” I enjoyed this quote because I can relate to this. I was really on the fence for volunteering in the first place, going to a place where I knew no one and where only the teacher spoke English, but I stepped out of my comfort zone. I did get directly involved with the students who really love my company. And I hope I made an impact on their lives, because they sure made an impact on mine. Overall I am so glad that I ended up at ACIDH. You wouldn’t think that one hour a week would change a person this much, but they really made me become a better person, and for that I will be forever grateful.

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