There are nearly thirty YVC programs across the United States and Canada. All of these programs are continually finding new ways to engage youth in volunteering, and each offers their own unique perspective on youth volunteering in their community. We have had the opportunity over the past year to learn about many of these unique aspects that make our YVC family awesome! From Plymouth’s MLK Day project to Iron County’s fundraising event, we have gotten to see just how diverse YVC is!
This month we are going to Anderson County, South Carolina, to find out more about their creative spin on a YVC project. They took YVC to a whole new country! Former Program Director Carol Loyd and current Youth Volunteer Lindsey Loparo fill us in!
Carol Loyd, former Program Director:
Tell us a little bit about this trip:
This trip was designed to give our youth an opportunity to see another part of the world and learn about different cultures, meet youth who are volunteering in their country, and experience serving in another part of the world. We traveled to Ireland and Northern Ireland. We worked at Kilcreggan Farm and Garden alongside individuals with special needs. This farm is in the middle of town, and provides opportunities for these individuals with special needs to use their skills in a positive way. The farm also has apartments where some of these individuals live. The youth spent time with members of the Youth Council in Ireland and quickly became lifelong friends. There was also some time for sightseeing which was nice as well.
What inspired this trip to Ireland?
Our CEO at United Way, Carol Burdette, had an opportunity as a young person to travel out of the country and it was a life-changing experience for her. She had the idea that we would travel to Carrickfergus, which is Anderson’s sister city, and hope that in a few years a group from there will travel here to serve with our youth.
How was service utilized in this experience?
The youth spent three days working at the farm, caring for animals, building playhouses for the children’s area and working in the greenhouses – there is a permanent wall that has artwork from some of our youth in one of the greenhouses. They worked alongside those with special needs and also youth who lived nearby.
What do you think the youth learned from this experience?
There are needs similar to those in our community even around the world. They learned that they could share some of the same interests with the youth there also. It was the first time most of them had been out of the United States so the travel experience alone was definitely a learning experience.
Lindsey Loparo, Youth Volunteer:
From a youth perspective, how did this trip expand or change your view of service around the world?
This trip really showed me that there is more out in the world than just my small town. There are people in other countries that have real needs! We got to work with people in a completely different country that are just like us! We learned how to work together and it was just an amazing experience that I will never forget.
What was the hardest part of this experience?
The hardest part for me was traveling. I’ve been on planes several times before but this was just different. I am not a morning person and we were up at the crack of dawn. We went to Greenville airport and flew to Philadelphia. When we got to Philadelphia, we had a 4 hour layover. That didn’t seem like it would be very long but it was. When we got to Dublin (after an 8 hour flight), we were EXHAUSTED, but we still had a 3 hour ride to our hotel in Carrickfergus. Those traveling days (going to Ireland and coming back) were just really long.
What was the most rewarding part?
Meeting all the new people! I made so many friends over there and I still talk to a few of them now! I think it is so cool that we had to opportunity to go to a different country, learn their culture and make new friends. We made them sweet tea, taught them how to say “y’all” and in return they gave us Irish candy and made us all “Irish dictionaries” so we could learn their lingo. It was so much fun staying up late in the cafe at our hotel talking to them and learning about them.
How did you apply what you learned in your community?
While we were at the farm, we had to do some things that weren’t exactly “glamorous” (i.e., cleaning out rabbit cages, feeding pigs, running away from crazy geese). So when I came back to the U.S., I used that every time I was put in an “unglamorous” situation, I thought of my experiences in Ireland. If I could feed a 200 pound pig without getting killed, I definitely can sweep the floor, you know?
Ready to tour some other YVC programs? Check out our previous Spotlights on Ann Arbor, Corvallis, Greater Topeka, Greater Kansas City, Hampton Roads, Iron County, Plymouth, Calgary and Yellowstone County.
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