As a volunteer, you go out of your comfort zone to immerge yourself in a new context. You are here to interact within a new culture and language, different from your own. You encounter different people that may have different backgrounds, different lifestyles, different approaches, different opinions.
You are involved in a project with a structured timetable and planned activities to which you shall contribute based on your knowledge, know-how, ideas and capacity.
You explore a field of activity. It may be all new to you or you may be experimenting something known but somehow in a different way.
You discover new things, not only about the field you are volunteering in, but about yourself and the others, about the community and environment that surrounds you.
At times you may be having some struggles or encounter some difficulties.
You may put yourself into question.
You come through with solutions.
As a volunteer you embark on a journey. One that sees you as protagonist, one that can change you or enrich you or make you stronger.
But you are not alone. It’s an experience that you do supported by a team of people, referent staff of the sending and hosting organisations that coordinate the volunteering project, mentors, activity tutors, as well as other local, international volunteers or active members of the local community.
You are guided to reflect on your experience. You put into words your expectations, your impressions, your learnings. You define, review and increase your awareness about your objectives.
The international volunteering experience is for all intents and purpouses a learning experience.
Just as every person is unique, also the volunteering experience is unique and different for each one.
That is why it’s important to start from knowing your own motivations and expectations.
Through the following exercise we invite you to make a reflection on your expectations regarding the volunteering experience, by answering to three questions contained in the Silhouette of expectations tool.