The Anti-Tourist

I like to beat new paths for myself.

How Volunteering abroad changed my life

By 16:13:00 , , , ,

In whatever form, travel is always a journey and a discovery of something new. Be it a new place, new cultures and people, once you get the travel bug you're always in for something new. Sometimes, if you're lucky, you also get to discover new things about yourself, which is exactly what happened to me this time round.

A while ago, some college mates and I flew off to Armagh, in Northern Ireland, to volunteer with the Missionaries of Charity stationed over there. Over a whirlwind two weeks, we shared with them and some amazing children incredible experiences; laughter, fun and tears as we said goodbye to what had become an extended family. Old friendships were strengthened and new ones were made. We worked hard, saw life through the eyes of a child, and learnt that it isn't just third world countries that face problems and challenges in life. 

As for myself, it was my first time away from home for so long and it challenged so much of what I'd have thought were a given. It was probably the first time that I realised that travelling can be so varied and different every single time. In Armagh, i experienced a new kind of freedom and independence. I realised that I wasn't homesick at all, and that I valued the freedom of going anywhere without having to answer to anyone more than anything else. I had to give up people I really cared for for that, but it's something I'd never go back on. I also learnt that when you do something good for someone in need, you ultimately gain so much more in return. Cliched, I know, but incredibly true. 

So here's a photo diary of a few of the great moments we shared in Armagh. We flew as a group of Aloysians and lived with the Missionaries of Charity, who both do an incredible amount of good work in their community - check them out here and here. If you're interested in doing your part, I strongly suggest you check out the Jesuit page above, they help out in many cities. It's an experience I'd recommend to anyone - who knows, you might learn a thing or two about yourself.  

The pictures speak for themselves - the happiness that's in volunteering is something I haven't found anywhere else yet!

But of course, this is a travel blog, so stay tuned for posts on beautiful Northern Ireland. Be warned - a lot of green's coming up!

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