Volunteer changed me / El Voluntariado me cambió


Aileen Stewart / Scotland


One of the most formative experiences I have had in Girlguiding was a trip that I took part in during the Summer of

2015. I went to Switzerland with a group of girls from across Scotland, where we visited Our Chalet. While I was there I experienced so many things and my eyes were opened to the opportunities that were available to me through Guiding.

One moment that stands out to me is a conversation I had with one of the volunteers at Our Chalet, who spoke about her time volunteering at a world centre. It was then, at 15 years old that I started to consider seeking a volunteer position abroad.

I was studying Spanish at school so Our Cabaña appealed to me, however, it all seemed too far off in the future to seriously consider it, but the idea had been planted in the back of my mind. Two years later, I had just finished my last exam and was beginning the process of applying to university. I then felt fed up with the same routine of the school of constantly having homework and doing tests. I craved change – to meet new people, see new places and experience new things. I just didn´t know how. Travelling alone seemed daunting but the prospect of going straight back into formal education seemed worse. It was then that I began to seriously consider applying to Our Cabaña as a volunteer. There were many things about it that scared me – travelling alone across the world, struggling with the language, getting homesick, if I would enjoy it, or if I would actually make a good volunteer. I put off applying because I created these barriers that I perceived were stopping me.

One day I realised that the only thing stopping me was myself. Eventually, with the help of my family, leader, and a lovely past volunteer, I made the decision to apply. Much to my surprise, I was offered an interview that was followed by an e-mail informing me that I was selected to be a Summer volunteer. It was very unexpected, and I felt really proud of myself that I had the courage to apply and go through with my application. The following months were a rush of flight tickets, e-mails, and packing. Until finally, on the 25th of June 2018, I set off to Our Cabaña to begin one of the best experiences of my life. If I could give advice to anyone who is considering to apply to be a volunteer, it would be to accept that sometimes things are scary. If you can push past all your fears and self-doubts then you will gain more than you could possibly imagine. Ultimately, you develop the most when you are out of your comfort zone. There is no better place to learn and grow as a person than Our Cabaña.

The culmination of supportive staff, leadership opportunities, interaction with participants from all over the world, and the lifelong friendships that you develop are what makes Our Cabaña so special. Before coming to Our Cabaña, I felt that I had to follow a set path and deviating from it would be too much of a risk, but now my outlook has completely changed. I have decided to stay on at Our Cabaña as an Autumn volunteer for an additional 4 months. I have deferred my university to next year and I plan to work, travel, explore more of the world, and experience the wonderful opportunities that guiding has to offer. If I had to say just one thing that I have learnt from this experience is that if you want something in life, you should just go for it because you will never know quite where you could end up.

 Una de las experiencias más formativas que yo he tenido en Guías fue un viaje en el cual yo participé durante el verano de 2015, incluyendo una visita a Nuestro Chalet, con un grupo de niñas de todo Escocia. Mientras yo estaba ahí, experimenté tantas cosas y mis ojos estaban atentos de algunas de las oportunidades que estaban disponibles para mí en Guías. Un momento que destaca es una conversación que tuve con una de las voluntarias de Nuestro Chalet, quien habló sobre su tiempo trabajando como voluntaria en un centro mundial y la excelente oportunidad que significa.

Fue entonces, cuando a la edad de 15 años, yo empecé a considerar el buscar un puesto de voluntaria en el extranjero. Estaba estudiando español en la escuela así que Nuestra Cabaña me llamó la atención, sin embargo, todo parecía muy lejos en el futuro, como para considerarlo seriamente. Pero la idea ya estaba metida en mi cabeza. Después de dos años, terminé recientemente mis exámenes más importantes, estaba comenzando el proceso de aplicar a las universidades, y completamente cansada con la misma rutina de la escuela, los deberes y los exámenes.

Yo sabía que estaba ansiando el cambio – de conocer personas nuevas, ver lugares nuevos y experimentar cosas nuevas. Simplemente no sabía cómo. Viajar sola parecía abrumador pero la perspectiva de regresar en seguida a mis estudios pareció peor. Fue entonces que comencé a considerar seriamente de aplicar a Nuestra Cabaña como una voluntaria. Había muchas cosas sobre el cual me asustó – viajar sola a través del mundo, luchar con la lengua, si pudiera disfrutarlo, si extrañaría mi casa, si realmente fuera una buena voluntaria. Lo dejaba para luego porque de las barreras que percibí me estaban deteniendo.

Entonces, un día me di cuenta que la sola cosa me detiene fue yo. Finalmente, con la ayuda de mi líder, mi familia y una voluntaria anterior simpática, yo tomé la decisión de aplicar y envió mi aplicación. A mi sorpresa, me ofrecieron una entrevista, seguido por un correo electrónico me informó que yo había sido seleccionado lo que una voluntaria. Fue muy inesperado, y me sentí muy orgulloso de mí mismo que actualmente había sido