Reflections from an Alumnus
Wes Weston was a volunteer with WorldTeach in Namibia in 2010. He spent a year living and working in a rural village called Omungwelume where he taught English and math. Here he recounts the path he took leading up to his service with WorldTeach and about where that path has led him to now…
I truly believe that one of life’s greatest gifts is the chance to work hard at work worth doing. Yet sometimes I have difficulty articulating exactly what it is that I do. Just over ten years ago, I graduated from university and still, to this day, balk at the very notion of considering myself as having a career. Like many college graduates nowadays, I feel as though I have done everything except the field my education had supposedly prepared me for. If anything, I have pursued a career as a professional nomad.
Upon completing university, I felt lost, confused, and utterly disoriented when it came to deciding what I wanted to do in life. Naturally, I decided to do something unconventional, so the following year I hiked the Appalachian Trail. At the time, I believed this would give me some perspective, and in hindsight it did. However, once I completed the long trek, I felt more confused than when I started. Mistakenly, I thought that while hiking in the woods I would narrow my options and chose a more definitive path in life. Instead, I realized my options where limitless and ultimately I was the only person capable of holding myself back.
Thus, I set out on an amazing journey.
I traveled abroad to Costa Rica where I did a year of volunteer service with Habitat for Humanity. Afterwards, I moved to South Korea where I began teaching English. Three years later, I got the travel bug once again and yearned for a unique experience. Fortunately, I found WorldTeach and, in turn, found Namibia. From the beginning, it felt like it was just meant to be.
My life in Namibia was nothing like I had ever experienced. The area where I lived was economically deprived, but rich with culture and tradition. Amenities such as water and electricity were intermittent, while donkeys and livestock roamed the school grounds. Most of the time, the local pace of life seemed as if it were at a standstill. In the end, I felt as though I left my mark on the country, but in reality I know that I took away so much more.
As a volunteer, my time in Namibia came to an end, but it wasn’t over just yet. Once again, I knew where I was meant to go next. The following year, I moved to the Dominican Republic where I taught at an orphanage called Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos. Just like in Namibia, I faced extraordinary challenges both personally and professionally. After a year in the Dominican Republic and over six years abroad, I finally returned to the U.S. Presently, I am living and working in California while pursuing a master’s in TESOL (Teaching English to Students of Other Languages).
Lately, one of my projects is attempting to capture some of my overseas adventures in writing. Last year, I published a book – Happy Time Go Fast – about my first teaching experience in South Korea. Recently, I published my second book – Watermelon is Life – which illustrates life as a volunteer in rural Namibia. With these books I hope to share my experiences and perhaps inspire others to get involved, travel, and attempt to learn about other people and cultures. I have a learned a great deal from my time abroad. One thing I learned is that perhaps one person can’t change the world, but the world can certainly change one person.
– Wes Weston, WorldTeach Namibia 2010