In March 2017, I made the bold decision to commit to going on exchange because I wanted to escape the monotony and day-to-day simplicity of having lived in Canada for the past 18 years. Having never travelled completely on my own before, I was extremely excited for a taste of freedom and
the chance to be whoever I wanted – to discover more about myself.
My Global Volunteer exchange to Irapuato, Mexico was anything but easy – for which I was both grateful andalso frustrated. For 6 weeks, me and nine other volunteers from France, Colombia, and Vietnam helped create a marketing campaign for INMIRA, an institute focused on empowering women.
In the first week, we came up with the marketing materials we wanted, the release schedule, and the persons responsible for each part. 3 weeks later, and also halfway through our project, we completely scrapped everything we had done and hit the reset button. This was scary for everyone, as we realized we only had 1 week to record and edit almost 9 videos, and create digital content, then another 2 weeks to launch our campaign. It was extremely frightening for me as I usually like having everything planned – this forced me to adapt and be flexible, and focus on how to achieve our purpose as a team.
Why did we decide to restart? Well, our international presence attracted the attention of the municipal government who started taking an interest in our work. They offered to help us create digital content, provide us with equipment, to edit the videos, and so much more. By the end of our project, we successfully completed Valorate Mujer, with over 200 attendees at our campaign launch. Because of our international presence, INMIRA finally received the attention they needed to help more women in Irapuato escape violent realities.
I have been back for 2 months now, yet every time I think of my exchange, I realize how much I gained from just 6 weeks of being abroad. I learned how to work with people from different cultures with different work habits, how to create and track a campaign, how to ensure that tasks are completed on time, and how to speak Spanish (kind of). The part of this exchange I hold most dearly are the friendships I have gained in just 6 weeks. I still talk to them today to keep in touch because they were the ones who supported me the most through the challenges of my exchange. Going on exchange gave me more insight about the impact we have on each others’ lives as youth, and the power we have to make a positive change right now, and in the future.
“Don’t be seduced into thinking that which does not make a profit is without value.”
– Arthur Miller