This blog was written by alumni, Carlee Danielson.
It has been a year since I was in Ecuador. I remember before I left how excited I was to be with the kids but terrified to actually go on this adventure all alone. I knew that this experience was going to be incredible, but I didn't exactly know how or what the kids were going to be like. I had talked to a few people about it before, but most of them had volunteered in the Quito orphanage, so I still didn't quite know what I was getting myself into. I had heard that there may be a couple of kids with special needs. When I got to the actual orphanage, I found out that there were only a couple without "special needs". I was so worried that I wouldn't know how to love these children the way they needed to be loved. Awful I know! Truth be told, these kids were the easiest to love!
Each day I realized how much love I had for these kids as well as the love they had for me in just a 3 month period. They brought out the best in me and taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I went in the whole experience thinking that I was going to change these kids' lives. Boy did I have that all wrong! These kids changed MY life more than I ever thought possible! I learned that if you put EVERYTHING into the experience and love them with everything that you have, you will get that much and more out of it. Some days I would just be so tired and have low energy and didn't want to plan the greatest activity or spend some with the child that needed it the most that day. But then I would remind myself why I was there. I was there to love those kids like THEY needed and to give them everything I had.
I'm so grateful for everything they taught me. If volunteering is just a thought in the back of your mind, make it a reality and just go for it! I know for a fact you won't regret it!