Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Not by chance...

Below is a blog post by Laretia Williams an international volunteer who helped at NPH Dominican Republic. Check out what she had to say!

After working in volunteer and human resources management for a refugee resettlement nonprofit for six years, I decided that I wanted to serve abroad. My career has been shaped by interactions within very diverse settings, and one of my long-term goals is to become the HR director of an international nonprofit. In 2015, I knew that to advance towards that goal, I needed direct experience living abroad.

I thought I came across NPH by chance. NPH came up during my Google search of service opportunities in Latin America. But, now I know that the discovery was divine. When I entered the puerta of the NPH Dominican Republic home, the day after I learned my grandfather passed away back home in South Carolina, I felt a sense of calm. The tranquility I felt upon arrival assured me that I made the right decision of resigning from a job I loved with a steady income, putting my student loan repayments on hold, and moving just months after my niece’s birth.

I served as the visitor coordinator and the volunteer of the house of the oldest girls- San Esteban. I was able to hone my planning and logistics skills, improve my Spanish language, interact with people from all over the world, and establish life-long relationships with the children, fellow volunteers, and local Dominican staff. Also, during my year at NPH DR, I experienced firsthand the challenges and idiosyncrasies of navigating and adapting to another culture. For example, I reluctantly learned how to adjust my expectations of time. While in town or traveling the country, I also experienced the varying degrees of acceptance and assistance offered once someone figured out from my accent that I was not Dominican. My time at NPH DR revealed to me that a nurturing environment can motivate anyone to display their strengths and give them the courage to develop their skills.  

The NPH discovery was not by chance. My family has grown- my girls are forever my little sisters, the caregivers and staff are forever my aunties and uncles, and my fellow volunteers are forever my friends. I continue to apply the cultural competency lessons while working in human resources for a company that employs many former refugees. As I recruit, hire, and engage employees originally from all parts of the world, I tap into my time at NPH to continue to develop a welcoming and nurturing place of work.

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