An International Volunteer Project offers the chance through charity work abroad to gain valuable, rich and rewarding experience and enjoy many types of friendships throughout the journey.
Shelly explains why everyone is a winner when they get involved with an IVP.
I first met Xchange Scotland at a summer opportunities fair at university.
I have always wanted to do international volunteering, but money is always an issue, to which Xchange Scotland can supply value!
This was my first international project in a non-European country, and I expected it to be quite different, and it was, but in a great way.
The Project was 15km away from downtown Hanoi, it was a charity project founded by an American Veteran and run by an international committee dedicated to children with disabilities whose parents where affected by toxic chemicals used in the American War.
As for the Project, I learned about the country’s attitudes to disabilities, the service concepts they provide and the funds they receive.
The organisation in Vietnam was friendly, encouraging and innovative in its ideas to help those with disabilities.
The activities I got involved in along with other international volunteers were a good mix; we made our way to the village to play with children, organise games in the classroom and make embroideries with the children.
We also cleared sites, prepared soiling, weeding, and plant flowers.
I realised when on the project that this is my calling, my career, and my vocation.
I love working with people with disabilities and this experience made me realise just that.
Learning the language as I went along was one of the highlights, and to find myself saying phrases without thinking about is was always a high five moment!
What made it amazing was the people and the other volunteers from across the world who were on the International Volunteer Project with me, I made amazing friends and they gave me the idea to shape my life from here on in, so to them I am forever grateful.
If I have a message to pass on to those thinking about going on an IVP with Xchange Scotland, it would be this:
Traveling to a project is not scary!
There’s always someone looking out for you and the project leader will make you arrive safely.
And if you’re scared of making friends, you just have to remind yourself that everybody has come there to meet people, an IVP is one of the most open atmospheres I’ve ever experienced.
Have fun and see the world in a different way!