After publishing Wednesday’s guest post , I felt inspired. I’m about to do another project, my flight actually leaves today, so it’s time to review the lessons I learned last time I volunteered. Hopefully I won’t do all my mistakes twice.
1. Volunteering equals working. I worked every day for two months. Hard, manual labor. Losing weight wasn’t part of my expectations, but it was a reality after only a week. This time I’m in better shape and hopefully won’t feel so sore the first days.
An enclosure doesn’t look this good without someone having cleaned it.
2. Just because I signed up to work, doesn’t mean everyone else did too. Some are there because it will look good at a future application, or make for a good story. Ignore their complaints. Shake it off.
Or take a walk with a cheetah.
3. The true meaning of “African time”. “Soon” doesn’t mean the same in every language. It could be 10 minutes or it could be hours. If I respect their meaning, they will come to respect mine.
Time will pass; relax.
4. Abnormal can rapidly become normal. I worked with cheetahs and other wild animals; the first days my heart was on constant overdrive. After a while though, it was “just” cheetahs.
Their fur was softer than I ever could have imagined
5. “Luxuries” can include juice. Especially when water and food supply is running low. Missing material stuff is normal in the beginning, it will pass.
6. The place I am visiting is also learning from me. As a visitor I first made the mistake of thinking that I was the student, while in reality it is a two-way street. I brought my Norwegian culture to Namibia, and took some of the African ways with me home.
Everyone loves to dance. They taught us, and we taught them.
7. Small changes do make a difference. I dug waterholes and fixed fences; stuff anyone could do. However, I was the one that was there, and that waterhole has made a difference to the animals in the area.