Jillian is a college freshman from New Hampshire and recently volunteered with Color My World in Guatemala. We asked her to share her experience with us for our campaign #CMWvolunteer.
How did you hear about our organization?
Color My World hosted an information session at my library! My friend’s mom told us about it and we all decided to attend it together. The Hughes family is also originally from my hometown so I had heard about their nonprofit from word of mouth.
Why did you pick the trip/country that you went to!
I traveled to Nicaragua in the summer of 2017 and Guatemala this past summer. I first chose Nicaragua because it was the cheapest and I had honestly never heard anything about the country before, so I was really curious. This past summer I chose Guatemala because I wanted to try a different country and I loved the idea of staying in an orphanage! Both trips are very different from one another, so I would definitely recommend both.
Did you come with a friend or family member?
I went with friends for both years! If you’re nervous to go by yourself, don’t hesitate to invite a friend along, just make sure you don’t stick with them the whole time 🙂
Did you fundraise for your trip? How so?
For Nicaragua, I created a Go Fund Me page where my family members could donate! I then used that money to buy donations for the people of Nica including candy, toys, nail polish, etc.
What were some of your favorite activities/projects?
My favorite part of Nicaragua was visiting an orphanage for young girls. I brought a bunch of makeup and we gave everyone makeovers! At the end of the day, the sweetest girl Amy wrote me a note and I still have it hanging up in my room.
In Guatemala, I loved being able to bond with the children because we saw them every day for the whole week. Eventually, they began to learn our names and would be so excited to see us in the morning. One of my favorite memories was when I walked into the room where we eat breakfast and one of the young boys exclaimed, “Good morning, I love you!!” in broken English and my heart just about melted. In both countries, I loved being able to experience the amazing food, the unconditional love of the people, and going to church.
What lessons did you learn while volunteering?
I learned a lot about how service affects both the people on the receiving end, as well as those that are doing the giving. Seeing the joy on other people’s faces from simple acts of kindness will change your world forever.
I also realized that you will never be able to change the entire world, but if you focus on just changing one person’s world for the better, that’s a great start. CMW gives you the tools to change a dozen or so lives each week, and I promise, they will never forget you.
What would you tell future volunteers?
Don’t be scared! The entire Color My World family is so welcoming and you will feel at home in no time.
If you came on the trip with people you already knew, go out of your comfort zone! Try sitting next to someone new at dinner each day, and you will be amazed at the kind of people that Color My World brings together.
Don’t pay for cell service! It’s such a refreshing break and makes you appreciate it a lot more when you go home 😉
Don’t worry if you don’t know Spanish! Love, selflessness, and joy don’t always have to be expressed through words.
GO! You won’t regret a minute.