Travel is a great way to get out and see other cultures and communities. While any kind of travel is beneficial, it is hard to really immerse yourself in a culture when you are lounging by the pool at a resort rather than exploring the town.
Volunteering in another community can help you make a deeper connection to the place you’re visiting. I had a first hand experience with this my first year at Linfield when I went to Oakland and San Fransisco to volunteer at a Head Start preschool and at the Boys and Girls Club during my spring break.
I had visited San Fransisco once before and had a great time, but this time was different. Working with students and seeing their daily life gave me a better understanding of the community I was visiting.
At the Boys and Girls Club I met a little girl named Skye. Skye became my buddy the entire week I was there. I helped her with her homework and played games with her everyday. On my last day volunteering we went into the craft room. We both worked on our crafts and once we finished, Skye gave me her creation. It had “Friends forever” written on it. It made me realize that I had made a connection in Oakland deeper than visiting a highly ranked restaurant or shop.
Jennifer Porter had a similar experience when she went on a mission trip with her church to Belize. In this video, Jennifer explains what she did, how Belize differs from the United States and the connections she made while there.