This post comes to us from volunteer abroad program participant, Rebecca Hunderfund. Rebecca will be volunteering abroad with API. You can learn more about the program that she is participating in here: https://www.apistudyabroad.com/experiential-programs/
Name: Rebecca Hunderfund
Hometown: Tomkins Cove, NY
College: Stevens Institute of Technology- Civil Engineering
Growing up, I had always been nervous to try new things. Whether it was a new restaurant, a different food, even a different route to get to school, I always wanted to stay within my comfort zone and avoid any situation I wasn’t in control of… until I went to college. During my first semester, I was forced to learn to live on my own, adapt to a completely new environment, make new friends, ask for help- basically not just stepping out of my comfort zone, but leaping out of it. While nerve-racking, I slowly began to appreciate these new experiences and seek them out when possible, leading me to the adventure I soon face of volunteering abroad with API.
In less than a week I will be going abroad alone for the first time to participate in a 4 week volunteer program with API on San Cristóbal Island in Ecuador. I will be participating in a conservation program to help preserve the local environment of the Galapagos Islands, motivated by my love for nature and interests in environmental conservation. During this trip. I look forward to discovering the amazing animal life of the Galapagos Islands- a place I have always wanted to visit- in a way that allows me to make a difference. While I’m nervous about this trip, I know that this opportunity will only bring good changes into my life, and allow me to experience great new things.
This nervousness has forced me to face the biggest challenge in this process so far: myself. Since deciding to go on this trip, everyone in my life has been so supportive and excited for me… everyone except myself. Despite everyone else focusing on the amazing opportunity this program is, I made a habit of worrying about what could possibly go wrong since this will be my first time alone in a foreign country. However, through the amazing support from my program coordinator Amanda, and the incredibly detailed information provided to me regarding my trip, I am no longer nervous. If anything, I’m more excited for this trip than any other experience in my life, and cannot wait to leave for it!
While I’ve never volunteered or worked abroad before, my experiences traveling with my family and at college have taught me the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and being willing to try new things. Already this semester I have traveled across the east coast with my friends, explored NYC, as well as taken a trip to Canada. This reflection leads to my main goal for my program: try as many new things as possible. Whether it’s a food I’ve never seen before, a day trip I’d never think of going on, or just an experience that makes me a little uncomfortable, I hope to use this trip to expand my horizons and gain more confidence in myself. While I’ll miss my family and friends back home, I firmly believe that this volunteer program is an important next step for me, and hopefully just the beginning of my experiences volunteering abroad.