Overall Rating:/ 10As someone who has had his share of globetrotting, I had been looking to spend my vacation time engaging in travel other than tourism.
Last year I had toured Ukraine and had become quite charmed by the country and its quirks. When I came across the opportunity to engage in volunteer work in Ukraine,
I knew this was the type of travel opportunity I was looking for (plus I knew I needed to come back to Ukraine).
I really enjoyed my time here in Cherkasy city working with the kids at the local orphanages. Admittedly I wasn't sure what to expect, as this was my first time engaging in volunteer work overseas.
But I found my time with the children to be very enjoyable and rewarding experience. Although I only have a limited Russian speaking ability
I was nevertheless able to join the kids in their games (as well as teach them a little bit of salsa dancing). And the kids, they are so warm and accepting.
They just want to play and have fun. They would seek to include me in their games,
and they would shower me with love (I had a privilege of celebrating a birthday while on my assignment and as such the kids all made me birthday cards, something I will forever hold dear).
I also had the opportunity to be set with a host family that treated me as one of their own and were very hospitable to me.
They made me feel at home and would provide me with amazing meals (as well as throw me a nice birthday dinner).
And of course I should mention the help I received from my coordinator, Alexander, who was not only gave me ideas of things to do in town,
but also helped me learn to navigate the city like a local.
I came into this assignment with the goals of improving my Russian skills, experiencing the everyday life of ordinary Ukrainians and being a part of the local community,
and helping the disadvantaged children here in some meaningful way to what degree I could. While I suppose I was able to accomplish those goals to some degree,
I nevertheless leave with meaningful experiences as well as lessons learned from the children that I can take home with me and apply in my own community back home.
I am thankful I was able to have this assignment and I hope that I will have the opportunity to participate in this assignment again soon.