Link Overseas Exchange

Volunteer Stories

Volunteers always have plenty of stories to tell when they get back!  We have selected some of the things they have said about different aspects of being a volunteer to give you a taste of what might be to come…. 

Life in a Community Overseas   Teaching & Learning   My contribution
Difficult Times
  My Link Partner   Life Changing Experience

Experiencing life in a community overseas

“I was so pleased at how integrated we were in the community by the time we left.” Philip Robins, August 2005.

“I am very glad that I went away with Link as opposed to another charity because I felt like a real part of the community and the culture.  The length of the project is excellent because it allows you time to acclimatise and grow accustomed to the culture and also to pick up some of the language, which is often such an excellent gateway to another culture.”  Megan Hurst, August 2005

“At times it was like having sixty sisters”
Vanessa Gray, Aug 2004

Teaching and learning…

“Your confidence will increase radically and by the end you’ll be teaching like you were born to do it” Volunteer, Aug 2004

“The girls taught me how to grate a coconut and how to wash my bed sheets on a rock while I taught them how to make friendship bracelets and coconut mats”
“One of the things I am most proud of from my time in Sri Lanka is establishing a new part of the project at a nearby primary school.  Though working with the Montessori children was enjoyable, the heavier English teaching load at the primary school felt like a valuable addition to the placement.” August 2005 volunteer

“Teaching was perhaps one of the most rewarding parts of the whole experience.  The pre-school children we worked with there were absolutely adorable and it was very satisfying to finally have them chorusing the correct body part when you pointed to it after struggling for a lesson.”  Megan Hurst Aug 05 volunteer

“Despite all the fun times we had with the pupils we certainly had our fair share of bad lessons too.  This is a completely natural part of the learning curve for both the volunteer and the class, and some of the mot disobedient classes at the beginning were the same classes that were the most upset to see me go.”
Luke Strachan, Feb 04


What did I contribute?

“One of my fondest memories of teaching was with a 17 year-old boy, who at first could barely speak English but by the end was the best in his group.  During a grammar question, he remembered an answer he didn’t know the previous day and he turned to me with a triumphant grin and said “I didn’t know it yesterday and now I know.” It made me realise that all my work had been worthwhile.  I really was making a difference.  Kimberley Kirk – Feb 04 Aug 04 volunteer

“It was really lovely when they came to thank us at the end of each lesson and when they would tell us things that they had learned in a previous class.”
Pamela Cramb Aug 04

“Some good news. Two of the Haragama girls won first place in English day competitions for Kandy schools. It was a great achievement as 4 schools took part. This is a credit to your volunteers!”
Local director of placement in Sri Lanka.

“The classroom that I taught in was really dull and depressing compared to the other rooms in the building so we asked if we could decorate it to make it a more pleasant environment for the children to learn in.  It took a while to complete but the outcome was fantastic and both the children and the staff at Tadiwala Road were thrilled with the finished room”
Aug 04 Volunteer

“The contribution this group of volunteers made to the self worth of people living with and dying of HIV/AIDS was immeasurable.”
Local director of placement in India. 2006.


Difficult times…..

“Illness did sadly prove to be a slight problem.  The award for worst week of the six months has to go to the one I spent in hospital in Kandy due to a viral infection. 

The care I received from the hospital and the support from my fellow volunteers and from Link made the experience far better than it would otherwise have been though.  The standard of support from Link, both before departure and during the placement, by far exceeds any I have seen or heard of from other organisations to their volunteers.” 
Aug 05 volunteer


Your Link partner

Most people get on well and long term friendships seem to be the norm.  Many volunteers still get together on a regular basis for more travel. 

“Fear not!  You might think you have nothing in common but believe me, you’ll be surprised and by the end of it you’ll be like sisters! “(Natasha Manning, 2004)

“When we first met, I remember my initial thought – Oh dear.  We’re very different.  However, in spite of a few hiccups at the beginning, I think we both came to realise how much of a benefit this was.  In a practical sense we brought different skills to the placement, but we also appreciated our friendship much more knowing that it had taken work to accomplish.  I won’t deny there were hard times, and things I’m sure we both regret doing or saying, but out of all the volunteers in Sri Lanka at the time, I’m glad she was my project partner.”  Aug 05 volunteer

“OK so we didn’t get on, but the placement was amazing and so nothing could stop it from being a great experience”
Volunteer, Aug 2004


Life changing experience….

“I think it changed me in ways I didn’t think I could be changed, i.e. opinions and my way of life at home. for the better of course!” Hannah Gray, Aug 2005

“It made me realise that I can do anything if I put my mind to it” Lana Dodge Aug 2004

“It’s not the sort of knowledge you learn at school from a text book, it goes a lot deeper than that.”   Jessica Ramm, August 2004

“I’ve realised that I’m able to stand my ground when all odds are against me” Catriona McDougall, August 2005.

“The six months away also taught me a lot about myself, and changed me as a person.  I believe I am now a lot more self-sufficient and prepared for life in the adult world.  I also think that I am a more thoughtful and generous person than I was before I went away.”
August 2005

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