As a service-learning student studying abroad for four weeks, it is challenging to think that in such a short time, you can make a lasting impact on the placement community you are working with and on yourself. Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to make your short term trip generate a lasting and meaningful impact on both.
The first thing you can do is enjoy the time you have. Of course, take lots of photos wherever you go so that you always can think back to those memories. Take in every moment and realize that you are fortunate to be where you are today because of your hard work and the people at home who support you. The second activity you can do is journal each day about little things that you did abroad and how that changed your perspectives on life.
Being abroad, you learn more about yourself because you meet new friends and you are isolated from all familiarity which really shows you who you are. The most important thing to do is to reach out and make friendly connections with the locals of your host community and the students who you meet during the trip. The effort you put in you receive in reward. I have made an effort to really learn about my host placement and the students that I am abroad with so that I make lifelong friendships and stay in touch with everyone when I am back in the United States. With those same friends, we go out and try new things in my host country, such as the night markets, which are a great place to really learn the culture of New Zealand.
Making a lasting impact on your placement community is doing the small things that your supervisors ask of you and taking initiative to do other things that they don’t ask of you. In my case, it was making signs for students to try and keep the art workshop areas cleaner after they are done using materials. I also help create new art for upcoming exhibitions that would promote Vincent’s Art Center. Making a lasting impact doesn’t mean doing the extraordinary things, but doing the ordinary things in an enjoyable manner that leaves an impact on everyone else.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.