Teaching Traveling: Is it worth it to spend money to volunteer abroad? Learn from teacher and fashion travel blogger, Lindsay Carreiro about her great experience doing it!
Lindsay, tell us about your background.
Lindsay: My name is Lindsay and I’ve been teaching and working with children for 9 years. I recently just turned 30 and I have lived in Rhode Island all my life. Mostly my background is in education but for the past 3 years I have been the sassy-pants behind Fashionista’s Travel.
Writing has become such a huge part of my life and I would ultimately like it to become a full time career. Currently I am an Assistant Teacher with the Providence, Rhode Island Public Schools.
TT: Wonderful! Tell us about your travels.
L: My most recent trip was to Costa Rica where I spent two weeks volunteering by teaching ESL to middle school students. Visiting Costa Rica was hands down the best trip I have ever been on. Between the culture, food, and new friends it simply could not have been any better.
TT: How did you find this travel opportunity?
L: After a recent breakup, I realized that I wasn’t doing enough in my life that I felt proud of. Sure I was working with children but I really wanted to extend myself to other opportunities.
I spent one day figuring out how I could travel and make a difference as well. So of course many volunteer organizations popped up but the one that I chose was International Volunteer.
TT: How did you find the money to fund this travel?
L: Funding this trip came in several parts. First I put together my savings from income tax and booked my flight. I then had to fundraise (asking family and friends) to help me pay for my housing while I was down there. Lastly I resorted to my credit card (not ideal) but it was a last resort.
TT: But it got the job done! Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.
L: My “ah hah” moment came on my last day volunteering. My students had decided to throw me a going away party or a fiesta in their words. Not only was it filled with delicious homemade foods but they had also taken the time to write me letters (in Spanish) to tell me how much they appreciated me teaching them English.
It was then that I knew that maxing out my credit card for this trip really was the best thing I could have done with that money.
TT: Beautiful How have your travels impacted you as a person?
L: Besides becoming more grateful for what I have here in my own country, traveling to Costa Rica really opened my eyes to a new culture. I am much more aware of the Spanish culture, especially when I am at work.
You can’t really say you know how someone else feels until you walk a mile in their shoes, so visiting another country and staying right in the environment is the closest thing you will get to that. I am very grateful for being able to experience that.
TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?
L: I would highly recommend volunteering abroad for anyone looking to try something new and make a difference while they do it. Not only does it open your eyes to new and different surroundings but lasting impression it will leave on your soul is priceless. Yes that might sound cheesy but for anyone who has volunteered abroad you will know what I’m talking about.
If you are thinking about volunteering abroad you should take into account that even though this is a mostly volunteer trip, there will be ample opportunity for sightseeing and mini-vacations.
You will want to plan your finances accordingly. I would also recommend doing research on the company that you choose to work with. I had nothing but a great experience when it came to working with the organization International Volunteer. It truly is a great experience.
TT: Excellent advice. Readers, what comments or questions do you have for Lindsay?
The author, Lillie Marshall, is National Board Certified Teacher from Boston who has been a full-time public school educator since 2003. She launched Teaching Traveling in 2010 to share expert global education resources, and over 1.6 million readers have visited over the past decade. Lillie also runs Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog, and DrawingsOf.com for educational cartoons. Do stay in touch via subscribing to her monthly newsletter, and following on social media with the links below!