How volunteering helped me find my career path
In the fall of 2009, I was about to return to college after taking several years off to travel. I was at a pretty major crossroads in my life and not entirely sure about what I wanted to study, or what I wanted to do once I earned my degree. So before returning to school in the fall, I decided to go on one last international adventure. And I wanted this one to be something completely different from anything I had ever done before. That's how I made the decision to volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions in Bagamoyo, Tanzania for 3 weeks.
I immediately took to Tanzania. Everything about it just felt right. I loved my volunteer assignment, and the people that I met in the community. I loved who I was while I was there, and how I felt. Having traveled extensively before volunteering with CCS, I thought that I had a decent insight on various cultures, but I realized that I was wrong. My CCS experience was the first time I was truly immersed in a culture to the point that I actually felt like I was a member of the community.
One night, a few volunteers and I were invited to a local bonfire and drum circle, and I noticed a few of the children from my volunteer assignment were there as well. As soon as I arrived, I was swarmed by a mob of children. They all remembered my name and were elated to see me. One of them grabbed my hand, pulled me into the drum circle and started showing me how to dance Tanzanian style. If I had traveled to Tanzania as a tourist, I would never have stumbled across beautiful moments like this one.
The next day, I went to my volunteer work assignment at the group home and the children there made an effort to say good morning to me in English. And after I ran through some morning activities, we went outside to play a game. Once outside, they all started dancing around me, just like we had the night before. This is when I realized that I had made a true connection with them.
And at that moment, I also realized something else: I wanted to pursue a career in an international field. When I returned home from Tanzania and went back to school, I changed my major to International Studies with a minor in Anthropology, and now, a few years later, I'm working for CCS. Since that day in Bagamoyo, I have never questioned what my career path should be. It is something that I just needed to discover on my own, with a little help from CCS.