Volunteering Abroad

Hi everyone! I’m new to this blogging medium so I hope I will be welcome on this platform! I have been using Blogger to post my blogs and would like to share my posts with anyone who wishes to read about my experience volunteering abroad in Mérida, Mexico at a local food bank!

Link: volunteerwithbelinda.blogspot.com

Here’s my latest post pasted below:

¿Qué haces en tu tiempo libre?

My UBELONG mentor, Cedric, reminded me prior to my service project that although I will be coming to Mérida to volunteer, I am on an immersion project which puts me in a location with lots of culture to experience and many places to explore. With hard work, we should all get rewarded with some free time and play, right?!

My first week of volunteering at the food bank was fun and very different from my experience teaching English in Ecuador. As usual, I had to touch up on my Spanish since I hadn’t actively practiced the language since my project in 2012. The people at Banco de Alimentos en Mérida, A.C.,are super welcoming and supportive and, beyond the jokes about how I can’t understand some of their conversations, they are so eager to teach me everything there is to know about their culture, their language, and most importantly, about the work they do at the food bank. I’ve touched upon a little of everything so far, from working hands on with the people in the warehouse sorting fruit and packing bread, to translating documents into English! On a later post, I will talk more in detail about the departments at the food bank after I’ve learned more on the project J

In the past weekend, I spent over $80 USD on excursions in the Mérida area T_T Unfortunately, I did not budget going to these awesome sites when I packed for this trip! (Once this service project is complete, I will create another post of all the things I should’ve done in hindsight and tips for people who wish to travel or go abroad for some period of time J). From Friday to Sunday, I went to Dzibilchaltún, Uxmal and El Museo de Chocolate, and the cenotes in Cuzamá. I’m glad I went to each of these attractions in this order because each one was better than the next!

Climbing one of the Dzibilchaltún ruins

Overlooking the Uxmal ruins from the top of another ruin

At the Chelentún cenote!

For anyone who is eager to travel but is afraid they will be lost and not know what to do, trust me, I’ve felt all of your sentiments and more while on my volunteer trips. This is an amazing opportunity to meet new people (at the hostel, in the community, at local shops and workplaces, etc.) and experience cultures different from your own. Every time I visit another country, I am humbled because of the disparities I see and how people make the most of what they have. It amazes me how happy these people are in comparison to the people I see in NY (including myself, haha). The people at the food bank love what they do, although they probably don’t make a fraction of what we make at an hourly rate. Their mentality is so positive and laidback, and we can all learn a thing or two from visiting other countries and living the way they do.

Although I have less than 1,000 pesos (the equivalent of about $66 USD) for the next two weeks, I have no regrets for spending 1/3 of the cash I brought with me on the excursions. There is so much to see and do here, and I had the chance to see not one, but TWO Mayan ruins and swim in the beautiful cenotes that Mérida is known for. If I had the funds, I’d probably visit Chichen Itza, one of the 7 Wonders of the World, but the two that I visited shall do (for now!). It’s opportunities like visiting ancient archaeological sites and swimming in natural sinkholes that make exploring other countries all the more exciting ^_^.

Here’s some helpful advice: Don’t be like me and remember to pack at least $100 extra in case of emergencies and bring a debit card and credit card that won’t incur overseas charges when used!

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