Waipora Marshall-Lobb- Schools Assistant, UK
"There are many reasons why people decide to take a gap year, personally myself I did not want to go straight to university as I had no idea what I would study. I had always been interested in doing an overseas exchange. I was eager to get out in the world and explore. In my 5 years at high school I thought about doing a student exchange. However I did not want to miss out on the privileges of being a senior student and I wanted to gain all the NCEA qualifications I could.
When I found out about Lattitude Global Volunteering I was excited. This seemed to be a great opportunity. Volunteering with Lattitude allowed me to live overseas and experience a different culture. Being away from home helped me become more independent. My experiences in the workplace guided me in my transition from being a student to becoming a young adult. Working also kept me busy and also taught me some valuable skills. Living overseas can be quite expensive. Getting a small allowance for working was very useful. Being on a budget I learnt how to organised and prioritise my activities. Meeting new people comes naturally on a gap year, whether it is getting to know fellow volunteers, working with teachers and students at your placement or just talking to the local people.
However the main reason why I chose to volunteer with Lattitude was the support that I would receive. I can honestly say that I received the best support possible, from the time I was accepted into the programme right through to when I arrived back home. Applying for my passport, visa, police check etc can be very time consuming. It was through Lattitude's years of experience with sending volunteers overseas, they were able to provide useful advice. Before I left I attended a pre-departure briefing organised by Lattitude. This was a great way for me and my family to meet the Lattitude team in New Zealand, NZ Travel brokers (Lattitude travel agents) and other volunteers. This meeting allowed me to get answers to any questions I had, and put my mind at ease. When we landed in the UK we were met by Lattitude staff. After a two day orientation (doing things like opening bank accounts) we made our way to our placements. During my time away I was updated on news from Lattitude through monthly newsletters. Just knowing that I had support around me if needed really helped with settling into my new environment.
I was placed at Dover College (a co-educational day and boarding school for pupils aged 3-18 years) in Dover, Kent, England. I was placed with another volunteer from Australia. On the train ride to Dover I was nervous. We were welcomed by the Headmistress of Duckworth House (the boarding house where I would live). Shortly after, we were introduced to the girls in the boarding house. After the introductions, we were shown to our rooms. The next day we were shown around the school and the town of Dover. My first few days were spent finding my way around the school and remembering names of staff and students we had just met. My jobs varied, starting my mornings working in the school office to playing sports games with the pupils in the afternoon and occasionally helping out in the boarding house.
My experiences in that one year forced me to become more mature. I developed more of an interest and understanding of the world. I began to think more about my future. One of the changes that others have noticed is an increase in my own confidence. I have proven to myself that I can happily live in a foreign country, where I can be independent. Now I am more willing to take risks in life. I’ve come to realise that I will never achieve any of my goals without trying. If you are looking to challenge yourself to a completely different way of living, then volunteering overseas with Lattitude may well be the choice for you. Lattitude Global Volunteering offers a wide range of projects choice which means you can easily find a project that suits your needs."