Worldwide VSO Network

Gina writes:

There have been many times in the past few years when I've realized what a great thing it is that VSO places volunteers from many different countries to work in many countries.

1. I realized it before starting my placement, when attending the interview and 2 trainings in Ottawa. Since some parts of Canada speak French as their first language, there were two groups during the trainings, the English-speaking group and the "Francophone" group. Further, there were a number of volunteers who were living in Canada or the U.S. but were from other countries, including Peru, Kenya, and Poland. We were going to places all over the world, but we were also from places all over the world.

2. When we arrived in India, the international flavor was so much more amplified. In addition to being in India, we were in the month-long training with other volunteers from the England, Scotland, Ireland, the Phillipines, Kenya, Australia, and Canada.

Our conversations weren't just about Indian culture and experiences; we learned a lot about each other's background and cultures too. An unexpected side of VSO that I didn't anticipate, but loved. Example: A few weekends ago, some volunteers came to stay in Koraput for the weekend, as a respite from the heat of Bhubaneswar. Our gatherings consisted of 2 Americans (me and Corey), 2 Australians, and Irish girl, and a Filipino!

3. I keep in touch with some of the volunteers that we were in training with in Ottawa, through blogs and Facebook. To know that the 64-year-old nurse in Sri Lanka and the family of 4 in Namibia and the young couple in Cameroon are experiencing similar things to me is comforting. It's interesting to have the shared perspective of all being VSO volunteers, but to learn about the countries that they are in as well.

4. I was glad once again for the "VSO network" when Corey and I were planning our post-placement trip in Nepal and Thailand. VSO has an office in both Nepal and Thailand and we've already been in touch with them, so they are available to us if we find ourselves in trouble or just need advice. Also, one American volunteer that we know has been working in Nepal for the past 2 years and another has been working in Thailand for the past 2 years. We'll have a chance to see one, if not both of them, for a meal while traveling! And they've been helpful with travel tips. What a great resource to be able to depend on!

5. After we return to the U.S., we'll be maintaining communication with a number of volunteers that we've met while here in India. We have open invitations to London and Cape Cod and we'd look up friends in Australia, the Phillipines, Canada, and Ireland if we were ever there on a trip.

What I'm trying to say is that my interactions with other cultures has been so much more than I anticipated. Discussions about the differences between "Western" culture and Indian culture are interesting, but they're made more fulfilling when the discussion is about U.S. vs. British vs. Filipino vs. Indian culture!

Oh...and any volunteers wanting to visit the great city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? OPEN INVITATION!!