This week, in honor of International Volunteer Day, we asked some of our volunteers to reflect on the value of volunteering abroad. Today’s blog comes from Kenton Ayers, who has completed five assignments with Winrock’s USAID-funded Farmer-to-Farmer programs in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Nigeria.
For me personally, international volunteering is one of the most exciting and fulfilling activities that I have done and continue to do. Over the years I have had many opportunities and I sense it is my responsibility to “give back” for the opportunities that I have received. Also, international volunteering helps me bring back an appreciation for other cultures. I enjoy the people-to-people approach of building relationships with the people and businesses that I provide technical experience. I feel that I receive more than I have given.
These Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer assignments are extremely worthwhile in providing win-win benefits for the volunteers and people that receive the technical expertise. A volunteer advisor that donates their time and expertise provides an efficient and low-cost method of bringing specialized talent and long-term impact to a development program. More importantly when I return home from an overseas assignment, I share my personal and professional experiences as well as my increased understanding of the value of foreign aid with my friends and community, showing win-win solutions for the United States.
I would recommend it to anyone that is considering being an international volunteer in gaining ways to sharing your skills, cultural exchanges, or gaining international professional experience. The Farmer-to-Farmer volunteer program is the best way that I know how to do it.
Here’s a photo from one of Ken’s trainings in Bangladesh: