At the age of 33, I found myself in a highly unsatisfactory job. With no family ties, I was able to start planning my escape, and after nearly a year of putting funds together, a lucky break enabled me to make my move. I discovered GVI (Global Vision International) and made inquiries about the volunteering programs they run all over the world. I was keen to get to Latin America to do some traveling and learn Spanish, but also wanted the trip to give me the experience required to move into the international volunteering industry on my return home.
A friend suggested an internship might be a useful way to gain contacts and industry experience. I moved back home with my parents, who were incredibly generous in taking me in, so that I could intern with the marketing team at GVI in the United Kingdom. I also took on work in a call center to keep afloat financially. Other interns were coming and going, some jetting off to work as field staff for GVI in Mexico, South Africa, and the Seychelles. I was getting itchy feet and finding the call center work increasingly tedious when the opportunity arose to continue the internship in Guatemala!
So in just six short weeks, I made arrangements and moved to Antigua. I will spend six months on the internship, learning the ins and outs of GVI and the volunteering industry, before taking part in a GVI volunteering program myself. While here, I am, of course taking in as much of Central America as possible, but another great challenge is to learn Spanish. I am taking one-on-one lessons each week and slowly but surely starting to pick it up. It helps to be able to speak a little each day in the market and when going about weekly chores.
This isn't where I expected to be in my 30's, but it certainly isn't a bad place to be---experiencing a new culture, gaining insight into another industry, picking up new marketing skills, learning Spanish, meeting people from all over the world and discovering new opportunities at every turn. It is easy to feel that you don't have other options when settled in a place with a good job, safe support network and nice home, but once you have made the break, you realize that there are so many choices, if only you choose to look at them.