Photo Credit: ©Bianca Lambert
JetBlue Gave Me An Opportunity To Volunteer Abroad. Here's What I Learned About Giving Back
When I was offered a chance to participate in #CheckInForGood with JetBlue, I was beyond excited to jet off to the Dominican Republic for Destination Good. I was getting a chance to travel to a country I’d never been to before, and on top of that, I was going to get the opportunity to volunteer. Even with those details, I still didn’t know what to expect since this was my first volunteer trip.
At 8 am, we boarded our bus and set out on one of the three volunteer activities JetBlue planned for us. When we exited our air-conditioned bus and walked onto the school grounds, I felt this burst of joy and excitement as I heard the little voices and laughter of school children.
A few moments later, we were greeted by a representative from Meliá who told us the kids had been jumping over the barbed wire that surrounds the school to play basketball because there were no other dedicated spaces for them to play. She went on to tell us that we’d be painting a mural design brought to life by a local artist to help beautify the area surrounding their newly renovated court.
Next thing we knew, we were broken up into groups, given a layout of how each piece of the mural should be painted and we were ready to get to work.
We worked together for two hours alongside the school children to bring some color and beauty to their school grounds. Even though we were in 80-degree weather, with the sun beating down on our faces, no one complained. We worked like a well-oiled volunteer machine and got that mural done!
When l looked around to see what we’d done in just two hours, I was stunned and overjoyed.
At that moment, I realized it is my responsibility as a traveler to not just go to a city and take — I have to give back, not out of obligation, but out of respect for the people and the places that I visit. There are organizations in many cities that offer short-term volunteer opportunities in cities domestically and abroad. It is also possible to leave a lasting footprint by supporting the local economy and being mindful of our carbon footprint. As I continue to travel to new cities, I will take this experience with me when I go, and always remember that there is always an opportunity to do good.