Below you’ll find the story of Mary Nolan, one of our more experienced WorldTeach volunteer teachers. She recently began her third year and different country placement with WorldTeach. Mary serves as an inspiration to all of us as she continues to travel the world on her journey to global citizenship and understanding. Below is a glimpse into her story…..
Having lived in Ireland all my life, in 2013, I decided it was time to see some more of the world. In that year I applied to WorldTeach to take part in one of their volunteer teaching programs and went to the island of Pohnpei in Micronesia.
During that year – July 2013 to May 2014 – I taught computer applications in the College of Micronesia. I also taught an Industrial Safety class of 20 students. I was a bit apprehensive about teaching this class as it was something I had never done before but it turned out to be one of my favourite classes. I really enjoyed my year in Micronesia and met many wonderful people there.
My next volunteering trip with WorldTeach was in 2015. I arrived in Colombia on New Years Eve and met up with 30 other volunteers. During orientation, we stayed in a little town called Chia which is near Bogota. Then we moved to different schools and universities all over the country. Two other volunteers and I were sent to a University in Bogota, called Uniminuto de Dios. This is a university which caters for students from the lower strata of society. They were excellent students who were very interested in learning.
There are so many beautiful places to visit in Colombia that it’s impossible to go to them all. One place Ivisited was an island called San Andres in the Caribbean, about 500 miles from the Colombian mainland. The people who live there are descendants of European and African settlers who first inhabited the island. They all speak English and they love to meet people from other cultures. While in Colombia, I also took a trip to Machu Picchu in Peru which was a fantastic experience.
My third and current placement with WorldTeach is in Ecuador. Along with eleven other volunteers I arrived here in February. We are all teaching at a university in Quito and living with host families. The work here can be challenging at times but it is also very rewarding.
Ecuador consists of four geographic regions – The Coast, The Andean Region, The Amazonian rainforest and Galapagos Islands. Within hours you can travel to mountains, beaches and tropical forests. One of the places I have visited so far is Mindo. This is a small town in the cloud forest region about two hours from Quito. There you can see many different species of birds, butterflies and plants. I also went to the market town of Otavalo. There is a huge market hosted by the local indigenous people every Saturday where they sell many colorful textiles and handicrafts. I also visited the historic center of Quito which is one of the most famous historic centers in South America. There are numerous churches, museums and other buildings of interest. During the rest of the year I hope to visit many other places in Ecuador including the Galapagos Islands.
This is just a brief summary of some of my experiences traveling and teaching with WorldTeach. While I realize that it’s not for everyone, to anyone who is seriously considering volunteering abroad, especially if you are of more mature years, my advice is to just “go for it”. You will never regret it and it will change your life in so many ways.