I have always loved to travel, even as a young child. I love to venture out to learn about other cultures, especially since the culture that I currently live in is very technology driven and becoming very superficial and shallow. I aspire to be in a culture where humans are still humans, and human to human interaction is still very vital.
Why did you choose V2 Volunteer & Vacation?
I chose to serve with V2 Volunteer & Vacation because of the relationship that I built with the founder, Jade, beforehand. She and I both share a mutual interest and desire of relocating to Trinidad and Tobago one day soon, so it was easy to connect after that. Once reading more of what her program has to offer, I was instantly impressed and excited to join in! Volunteering with children in the school system is something that I have done locally in my current community often, so I was more than ecstatic and curious to volunteer in the Caribbean school system once I learned of this wonderful opportunity.
What was your favorite thing about Tobago?
The atmosphere while being in Tobago was amazing. The people are really nice and friendly, as well as laid back and sort of carefree. Nothing stresses them there, which is something that I can get used to coming from the States where everything's a hustle and bustle.
What made your experience abroad unique?
Being able to live among the natives and volunteer among the natives was quite a unique experience for me. I loved being able to feel like "one of them" during my time over there. I had the pleasure to not feel like a tourist and only see the side of the island that most tourists would see (i.e. resorts, duty-free shopping etc.); I was able to grasp a real feel of life in Tobago.
How did local staff support you throughout your program?
Jade was simply amazing! She was very attentive to my needs; she made sure that we felt comfortable and had what we need. She showed us around and gave us a great tour of the island, on top of being very accommodating to and with our travel needs. There wasn't anything that I asked for that Jade wasn't able to provide for us!
What's one thing you wish you would have done differently?
The one thing I wish to have done differently was STAYED LONGER! I came in on a very short, quick "get a feel" type of trip, and I fell even more in love in just the few days that I was there. Jade and have already been in talks about returning in the upcoming months for a much longer time frame.
Describe a typical day in the life of your program.
Because my trip was so short this time, I was only able to volunteer for one day at the school, but it was still wonderful! That day at the school was amazing because I was able to see how the school system in Tobago worked. I was placed in Standard 4 classroom, which was the final stop at Black Rock Primary before heading to the next level school. While I was there, I was able to help the students with their writing and editing as well as monitor them during their grammar test. The children there are so happy and simply adorable! It was truly a joy to be there with them and watch them enjoy themselves and have fun during their hour long recess!
What did you enjoy doing in your free time?
Each day was very eventful and pleasant! Friday I awoke early and headed to the school to volunteer with the students there; it was quite amazing! Afterward, Jade took us to the beach, did a little shopping and eating, and then we headed home for the evening. The next day, we headed out to the rainforest at about 9 a.m., stopped at the famous Fort George, took a glass bottom boat ride out to the Nylon Pool and No Man's Land Island, and then ended our night on the beach watching the sunset; pure bliss!
What was your accommodation like? What did you like best about it?
The villa that we all stayed at was very nice! It was very cozy, and more importantly EXTREMELY clean! Next time I go I think I might take a dip in the pool!
What is one thing every participant should know before participating in your program?
Every participant should come prepared to have fun, and most importantly, to learn.
Do not come focusing on what you can teach them, let them and the culture teach you a thing or two.
Now that you're home, how has your time abroad impacted your life?
It has impacted my life by confirming my desire to move and redefine my career path!
Would you recommend V2 Volunteer & Vacation to others? Why?
YES! It is one of the best opportunities you will ever get! Get out there and GO!
Joanna holds a bachelor of arts degree in graphic design from The Art Institute. She is an avid traveler and has, to date, visited 11 countries. Joanna is currently working in the corporate world, but says she will gladly give it up to pursue a career that allows her to travel the world and make a difference in the lives of others.