Hi, my name is Steve.
What made you decide to volunteer abroad?
I chose an international volunteer experience due to my curiosity of cultures that are completely foreign to me. Carrying a passion for travel, I understand the poverty inequalities that exist outside out country and I believe that when travelling, one has to act responsibly. I felt an international volunteer experience would allow me to do just that: continue my passion for travel and fulfill my curiosity of foreign culture while leaving something positive behind.
Where did you go?
I had the opportunity to travel to Peru, Rwanda, and Swaziland. In Peru, I was a participant, and the following two summers, I led a university team to Rwanda and Swaziland.
What did you do?
In each of the locations, we built infrastructure projects that were designed based on the needs brought forward by the local host partner. I felt this to be the most valued aspect of DWC work; the projects are designed based on needs assessments of the communities we’re involved with rather than our perceived needs of the community.
What impact did your volunteer experiences have on your global outlook?
Developing World Connections had a huge impact on my perceptions of the global community and international poverty, not simply through the projects we were a part of, but also through the exposure to cultures and communities we got to know intimately. The experience put faces and relationships on issues that are otherwise distant in the media and academics. When such relationships are built, more personal emphasis is undoubtedly placed on the importance of your role as a global citizen. I now understand that I have a responsibility to consider the global connections involved in my way of life; I now want to pursue a career and way of life that will contribute to positive global change. Previously, issues of global inequality would have likely remained too distant for me to have desired such a path.
What impact did it have on your education and employment opportunities?
As a participant, employers look positively at international experience because they rightly believe it can help individuals integrate more easily in the work environment. As a team leader, Developing World Connections can contribute to a position of leadership on the resume. Participating on international volunteer trips also allowed me to obtain the job I am currently holding and provided me with international work experience that was required for my current graduate school program. Furthermore, exposure from traveling has brought me down the current career path I am pursuing today.
Why should someone go on an International Volunteer Experience as a participant or team leader?
As a participant, Developing World Connections facilitates an invaluable opportunity that would be extremely hard to organize otherwise. Such barriers would likely be big enough that people would end up giving up on their proposed travel/volunteer plan.
As a team leader, Developing World Connections provided the same experience while adding the dimension of leadership. Being a team leader is a fantastic introspective opportunity to evaluate your own ability to organize and lead a group. In addition, being a team leader provides you with more of a role to contribute to the way a project is run and organized in the way you deem the most effective and responsible. Finally, challenges were often large as a team leader; simple things such as organizing transport and lodging for a group can be monumental when doing so in Rwanda, particularly when you do not even speak the main language. As a result, the rewards are far greater.
Steve Peat is currently working as a mental health work at the Portland Health Society in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside while completing his Masters of Public Health at Simon Fraser University.