“So, you’re going to save the world?”
The sarcasm spilled out of X’s mouth shortly before I left on my RTW trip. Sure, he thought traveling was a great opportunity and something I should do while I’m still young, blah blah blah, but as I rattled off about volunteering, I was suddenly caught off guard with his question. I fumbled and said something like, “No. I know I can’t save the world, I just want to help a few people along the way.”
The question irked me, and I felt it was a bit demeaning… trivializing my volunteer efforts. But it certainly didn’t deter me. If anything, it made me question what and why I do it.
One of the nicest letters I’ve ever received included this line, “Laura I have been telling you that I would like to be a musician but my main aim is to be helping those people who are in needy [sic] like me…” Seeing the smiles on faces and the words and acts of appreciation like this make volunteering worthwhile to me. And if I can encourage people to pay it forward, well that’s even better!
As much as I’d like to forget X’s question in casual conversation, I can’t. His words stuck. I’ve thought about what I would say if I had the chance to answer his question again. And I think, I just might give a resounding, “Yes, damnit, I’m trying to save the world!”
If you’d like more information on international volunteering, I recently wrote this article: Volunteer Abroad for Free. If you think it has relevant information, please stumble, tweet, or email it to friends. I found it tough to find legitimate, affordable volunteer projects when I first started searching a few years ago, so I’m hoping this helps someone else!