First-hand Africa Experience| Blog 6 – the Last Words

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Original 2017-12-03


Basics of interviewee

Name of interviewee: Zoe Zhao

Volunteer duration: 2016.5- 2016.9

Volunteer ID: 025326


Does this volunteering experience mean anything to you?

There is a common crossing point to every experience we had, that is, ‘getting to know yourself’. Be it everyday work, be it vocational travel, the moment you step into this experience, you are bound to observe more possibilities, in addition it allows you to further understand yourself. And here is the thing, the more you get to know yourself, the easier it is to find the path that belongs to you.



How did you get through the challenges during volunteering work?

To be honest there was not much challenges when it comes to ‘work’, rather I was having a hard time adapting to the culture and routines in Kenya. Understandably, going aboard to such a distant spot, the cultural shock is huge. For example, in everyday communication with local Kenyans (especially for those living in slums), we tend to form the impression that “all they care is money”. This is true to some extent, nevertheless at the same token there is nothing wrong with it, even though at times we might be puzzled or even angry.


In fact, thinking in their hats, ‘money’ is probably the most practical assistance. It can be immediately put into use – either to buy food, or to pay the rent  and have a guaranteed sleeping place for another month. For us it is different though, money can be helpful in the short term, but it is not sustainable. And in this situation there exists a difference of understanding, thus the necessity of ‘communication’ comes in. With exchanges of conversation, as long as we share the same vision ‘fighting for a better life for residence here’, it becomes less of a problem to reach an agreement.



What are the changes this experience brought to you?

Oh the experience itself is a pleasant gift to me. I am grateful for these 4 months in Africa, every bit is so real and authentic. If you refer to specific changes, there are more than I can have list out. I have had a far better understanding on myself. And also after numerous trials and errors on ideas, now I see more opportunities than ever. And on that note, it helps me to be more courageous and confidence also.