With my departure to Bangladesh only a few days away, it’s time that this blog be born. Blogladesh (thank you Fil for inspiring the name), will serve to document my experience on the other side of the world. But before we land in Dhaka, here’s some background on the journey so far…
I’ve wanted to volunteer abroad for several years and I knew I wanted to work with children. Initially I thought this would entail working at an orphanage and setting something up through an existing voluntourism program; however, after doing some research I came to the surprising conclusion that giving your time is expensive. Who would have thought?!
In an effort to avoid these high program fees, I enlisted the help of my parents. Thanks to facebook, my dad was able to get in touch with a friend who offered to help. After several conversations, Mark connected me with a friend of his who lives in Bangladesh. Andrew described two possible volunteer opportunities, one of which was at the Sir John Wilson School in Dhaka. I was immediately attracted to the Early Years Program and the school’s philanthropic work through IMPACT (each month surplus revenue is donated to support projects around the country). I wanted to make sure that their needs matched what I was looking for. I emailed with the principal who made me feel very comfortable and excited about moving forward with this plan. Things were about to kick into high gear.
Both Andrew and the principal urged me to come to Bangladesh ASAP. They warned that beginning in late April the temperatures would become unbearably hot. Given this timeline, I had about one week to decide whether to quit my job and take this leap, or to stay and continue life as it was.
Sitting on Ka’anapali Beach in Maui, I let the idea marinade. After some time, I concluded that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and given my situation (no apartment lease, no car payments, nothing to tie me down) it was the perfect time to take on this challenge.
Yet talking about quitting my job was a lot easier than actually doing it. But after breaking the news and taking a moment to exhale, I felt good. December 30 was my last day in the office.
I rang in the New Year in New York City, spent the first weeks of 2011 in Israel, and am about to embark on what will be a defining experience both of this year and of my life. I invite you all to come along for the ride.
To learn more about the history and demographics of Bangladesh, visit the CIA World Factbook.