Being in the United States challenges me. It challenges me to improve myself as a person, to change the way I used to think, and to be empathetic and helpful. Being in the United States has changed my perspective and it has gotten me out of my comfort zone. Definitely, that is exactly what I felt in my community service experience. Global UGRAD encourages me to do volunteer work, but I did not imagine that embarking on a project as a volunteer for one week in an immersion trip could have the power to change the lives of not only to those who were being helped, but also my own.
During spring break, I had a great and unique opportunity to start my journey with an amazing group of people to Atlanta, Georgia through a program called Bear Breaks at Missouri State University. I did not know what to expect at the beginning. I was just so excited sitting in that car for 12 hours thinking how a Global UGRAD participant could contribute to Atlanta’s community. Finally, we arrived at a church which would be our home for that week. A place where we have great memories like reflecting every night about our volunteer work, strengthening our team’s skills, learning Chinese, teaching Spanish, and becoming pretty good friends.
When we arrived to the organization for our volunteer work, the magic started. This organization is called the Atlanta Center for Self Sufficiency, which is focused on people who were homeless and are currently in transition looking for a job. We had the opportunity to talk with them, help them with their resumes, and help them to get a great outfit for job fairs. Also, we assisted one class and we had activities together about team building, communication skills, and how to succeed in an interview.
I could say that my biggest lesson in this volunteer experience was about “Believing in Yourself”. Talking with people who were homeless but now have the energy to believe that they can achieve their goals made me realize that there are no limits but only in our minds. The homeless are not only numbers, and self-sufficiency and empowerment are powerful tools. I have no doubts that volunteer work makes me a better person, leader, and citizen. It is why when you just get out of your comfort zone and your life will be changed.
Written by Maureen Serrano Mora, 2018-19 Global UGRAD student from Costa Rica at Missouri State University