My experience as an international volunteer volunteering in South African – Michael Duncan USA

My time being abroad and volunteering in South Africa taught me I can jump into the unknown. Shock also has hit me as I spend time with other queer males, and the issues we have in our community hit me a little harder now. To be in such a caring place as Ocean View, South Africa and to come back to such the careless, self-absorbed world of gay males (of whose faults I share with), I just want people around me to care more for each other. When you’ve experienced compassion on another level, you notice where compassion may be lacking; both in others and in yourself, and how you can improve upon that.


On my volunteering outreach in Cape Town- South Africa, I learned the basic stuff I was planning to learn: about how to be a better educator, and how non profits work. But I’ve learned something deeper. I’ve also learned to cherish everything. Not just things, and my lifestyle, but the people around you. Cherish the present. Am I still on my phone way too much? Yes. But now I see the fragility and the beauty of the present moment on a little bit of a deeper level. 


It’s not like I had this epiphany during my volunteer program in South Africa and my world is upside down now. But now I just see a lot of things just a little bit differently. And in seeing differently I must act differently. And I’m only just beginning to unravel everything I’ve learned. I’m about to end my time in college, and in Kansas soon, so this along with coming back makes for an electric, volatile, and exciting time. Just like South Africa, being back has been a roller coaster. But life is a roller coaster, and my outreach journey in South Africa helped me get a little more used to the ups and downs.


But most importantly, the international volunteer ride has and always will be worth it. I’m a better person because of the work, the people, and the lessons I experienced with South Africa. My heart is a little bigger and fuller. My mind, a little more open. And that’s because of my time this summer volunteering in South Africa with all of Team Volunteer Mzansi AFRIKA.

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