The Most Authentic Experience I Have Ever Had
Collen Liu is an accounting major at University of Western Ontario in Canada. She recently came to serve Outreach360 for two weeks during her winter break. This is her story:
Traveling means different things for different people. Some of us wish to see all the famous landmarks all over the world. Some of us enjoy lying on the beach to escape from work or snow. Some of us choose to go hiking or camping with family and embrace what nature can offer. No matter how we choose to spend our holiday, traveling always makes for wonderful stories we can tell our family and friends. When I first learned about Outreach360 through a friend who had spent a week with the organization in Monte Cristi, I knew that right away that’s the way I should spend my holiday.
Outreach360 has provided me an alternative opportunity to stay in a beautiful town – Monte Cristi – which is unknown to most tourists. I have had a lot of traveling and volunteering experiences in the past few years, but this is absolutely the most authentic experience I have ever had. I stayed in Monte Cristi with Outreach360 for two weeks, and I was constantly in a good mood during my stay. Maybe it’s because of the sunshine. Maybe it’s because of the beautiful (and sometimes loud) music played by our neighbors. Maybe it’s because of the amazing staff of Outreach360, who always make me feel at home. Most importantly, I think it’s because I feel like I’m part of the community here. When I walk on the street, I could always recognize some familiar faces. It could be a little girl who has learned a new English word from me yesterday. It could be at the Outreach360 English camp, where an Adelante Volunteer has recommended a beautiful Dominican song to me early in the morning, or a shy kid who always calls me “teacher” on the street when I pass by their house.
Unlike most of the volunteers here at Outreach360, who are from the US or Canada, I was born and raised in a small town in China until I moved to Canada for school when I was 17. I started learning English when I was about 13. I know how much impact a language teacher can have on students. As a language learner myself, learning a new language is not just about the language itself. It’s about learning about a different culture, which will gradually help you become a more open-minded individual who accepts and embraces difference. It’s also about having a chance to learn about ourselves a bit more through perspectives of a different culture. Outreach360 has provided a great opportunity for the local kids here at Monte Cristi to learn English and a different culture. It has also provided us, as volunteers, an opportunity to learn from them. I’m truly convinced that I’m making a difference here in Monte Cristi. It might be just a small difference, but I’m certain that each small act will add up to something big.