As soon as I press the “publish” button for this post, I’ll head to the airport for a week-long volunteer vacation in the (warm and sunny) Dominican Republic, where I’ll be turning swords into plowshares.
Well, not literally.
But it’s the same idea. I’ll be part of a team building a medical clinic (a good thing, like a plowshare) out of empty plastic bottles and plastic bags (bad things, environmentally speaking). Pretty cool, right?
Of course, first I’ll have to learn how to do it. And that’s just as appealing to me as the doing itself, especially as I’m interested in sustainability. (See “It’s Never Too Late”) Being part of a team will also be energizing for me. And, of course, let’s not forget that I live in the Northeast, so it’s not a coincidence that I signed up for a trip to somewhere warm and sunny.
I don’t need any of the abundant research that’s been done – some scientific, some spiritual/psychological – to tell me that helping someone else feels good. Whether it’s because my brain produces more dopamine or because it makes me hyper-aware and hyper-grateful for how lucky I’ve been and still am, whether it’s because of the human connections or the escape from my head, I just know from experience that it works. Have you had that experience too?
If you need convincing, you can check out the gazillions of hits on Google. For instance, this or this. Of course, that raises the question of whether it’s really altruism if it pleases you. However, I’m now officially old enough to give myself permission not to worry about things like that.
I haven’t gone on a volunteer trip since 2009, and never to a Spanish-speaking country, and certainly nothing that involved building anything out of anything. New experiences, new ground, new people. And warmth and sun and water in January.
I’ll tell you all about it in my next posting, in exactly a month. I’ll have access to the internet while away, so if there’s anything in particular you’d like to know or see, let me know. Meanwhile, hasta la vista.
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