Learn from both
August 14, 2012 § 1 Comment
I wrote much of this post last night, from inside a sparsely furnished caravan. “Caravan,” for those of you who don’t know, is European for “trailer.” A new volunteer arrived on my last day at my Danish host family’s farm. She needed the guest room where I’d been staying, so I packed up and moved out to the caravan for the evening.
The caravan is parked adjacent to the barn, steps away from the pasture. At night, if you listen carefully, you can hear the guard dog barking. Listen harder, and you can hear the family’s single, overfed sheep baa-ing.
This wasn’t how I planned to end my stay in the Jutland. I initially signed on for a three-week commitment with my Danish hosts. Things started out well. I found the work challenging and invigorating. I enjoyed my time with my host family. I loved my surroundings. And the food was something else entirely.
I found some of the tasks my hosts assigned to me difficult, but I always did my best. I tried to demonstrate my enthusiasm to my hosts. I put everything into perspective: I was here in Denmark, learning so much. I wanted to be here, I thought. Really, I did.
But it wasn’t enough for my hosts. I slowly realized that I wasn’t the volunteer they desired all along. To top it off, our personalities often clashed. Fortunately, we were able to communicate our feelings openly. We decided it was in my best interest that I leave as soon as possible.
That was nearly three days ago. Now I’m Copenhagen, taking time off before beginning my next volunteer assignment in Sweden. Rather than ruminate on what what wrong, I’ve chosen to turn this unexpected event into something positive. I can start at my next post early. I get to spend time in a city I’ve always wanted to visit. More important, I have gleaned many wonderful memories and life lessons. I’ve learned from both the positive and the negative aspects of my first volunteer experience. I’ll keep the two with me as I move forward in my travels.