Keily – Bulgaria
Duration of project: 6 weeks
Type of exchange: camp counsellor in a summer camp oriented for international high-school students
I had always known I wanted to be involved in a long-term voluntary work someday in my life. Little did I know that the opportunity would present itself so suddenly and would have such a huge impact on my life. My decision to apply for the projects came pretty much on the last minute because I had lots of hesitations, whether it is worth stepping out of my comfort zone and will I actually go through with this. Thinking back now, I can’t even imagine standing between the two options and second-guessing – my volunteering experience was literally the best time of my life.
My voluntary project took place in Bulgaria, in a little city called Blagoevgrad and specifically in The American University of Bulgaria.
My job there was to be the camp counsellor in a summer camp oriented for international high-school students, a bit more than 150 of them. My project lasted for 6 weeks but since I arrived a bit earlier and left a week later, then I spent around two months abroad. There was a total number of around 20 camp counsellors and teachers volunteering for the project from various places around the world – Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Spain, Macedonia, Canada, America, Kosovo, Albania, Hong Kong etc. 7 of us came through AIESEC. I was the first ever Estonian to have stepped my foot into the camp.
We, AIESEC volunteers flew in a week earlier to prepare for the camp. The camp itself lasted for three weeks. Among many various duties, my job as a camp counsellor was to be in charge of different afternoon and evening activities, staying up late during the nights to do rounds around the campus with other volunteers and provide a safe environment for the campers. The camp time was a really busy, runaround kind of crazy experience since there was not enough sleep but tons of positive emotions and happy moments triggered by both the campers and the volunteers.
During the last week of the project we helped out with the international mathematics competition which had more than 300 participants.
What I loved about the entire project was that I had the possibility to be engaged in various activities and responsibilities. I was able to develop my communication and leadership skills and I definitely learned to be more independent. What I cherish and love above all, is definitely my irreplaceable family of volunteers! I cannot begin to describe the way they opened my eyes about other cultures, countries and even my own home country.
I will never forget the adventures, the laughs, the tears (both the ones through laughter and the ones through sadness), the frustrations and even the daily potatoes and chicken we shared! I love those people to death and I can’t wait to see them again one day. I am glad and lucky beyond measure to have a bunch of beautiful people around the world to call my family!
I will never forget the two incredible months of my life and I recommend everyone to try volunteering through AIESEC. You have nothing to lose, only bunch to gain.
PS! Some of the photos used for this blog post were taken by the talented Alvaro, one of the volunteers.