Hi, my name is Will.
How did you get involved with international volunteering?
I initially wanted to take part in an international volunteer experience for the simple reason that I had no idea what I wanted to do. The opportunity came up, and I decided to go for it for lack of anything better to do. I realized the first time that I travelled abroad to volunteer that I had found something I wanted to keep doing for the rest of my life, both in terms of travelling the world, and doing so with the goal of taking part in community development and conflict resolution.
What countries have you volunteered in?
I led trips to Swaziland, Peru, and Haiti, each time taking part in larger and more challenging projects.
What was your most challenging project and what did you learn from it?
Each project has its own difficulties and unique characteristics which helped me develop both as a leader and as an aspiring humanitarian. The most unique and challenging was, without a doubt, the project I led to Haiti shortly after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Given that I study political science, with a particular emphasis on conflict and humanitarian aid, my experiences in Haiti granted me a personal connection to disaster and conflict, which had only been abstract concepts to me as I studied them in university. Leaning firsthand from the people I worked with in Haiti, I gained an insight into suffering, and the manner in which people are able to overcome it, which I never would have acquired at university no matter how many courses or degrees I completed.
How did your team leader experience impact your education and career path?
While continuing to volunteer with Developing World Connections, I have also been able to expand my experience in the developing world. I have taken part in conflict resolution projects, research, community development projects, and other experiences with different organizations as both a volunteer and an employee. This is directly due to my prior experience with DWC. For example, I have received government funding to run projects with refugees and former child soldiers in Ugandan and Sudanese refugee camps, something which I was told I was being granted directly due to my prior experience with Developing World Connections and the international leadership experience it has given me. Being a team leader played a role in helping me pursue a doctorate and a career in the field of conflict resolution and international development. It undoubtedly provided me with the first number of stepping stones I needed to get on this track.
Why should other people participate on an international volunteer trip?
I would say that for any person, whether it is someone with a 100% clear vision of where they want to go in life to the person like me who was a little more lost and clueless about what path to pursue, volunteering with Developing World Connections is an amazing experience. Put simply: it's fun; you get to travel the world; it's challenging; it looks great on a resume; you will be inspired; it will help your career; it will help your personal development; it introduces you to a range of people you couldn't imagine meeting; and it just might change your life in a random way you couldn't have possibly have foreseen.
Will Plowright is presently completing a University of British Columbia doctorate in political science.