If you’re following this blog, you’re probably aware that our family’s purpose in this adventure is to focus significant amounts of our travel time on acts of service in the countries we visit. We see this as a way to teach our kids the value of volunteering and create some local connections in the communities. In later stages of our trip we have already lined up contacts to nonprofit organizations, so we know we will have many opportunities to add to our list of 100 service projects. However, since leaving the U.S. several weeks ago, finding volunteer opportunities has been a little harder to come by. With Norway being the second richest country in Europe and Andorra benefiting from thriving tourism, banking, and luxury goods industries, we haven’t been finding a lot of ways to serve.
In fact, in Andorra we’re finding that people don’t fully get the concept of volunteer work. We’ve talked with a number of people about our trip and the service piece of it. None of them can think of any service work we could do locally while we’re here staying with our family. Our sister-in-law even took us to inquire about volunteering at the school our nieces and nephew attend. The teachers were clearly confused by the request. Their furrowed brows and confused looks revealed the thoughts running through their heads – “Why would they want to do work here and not get paid for it? This makes no sense.” This viewpoint is a big difference from our American experience where parents at our kids’ school did 15 “parent involvement hours” every year and the school was constantly looking for community volunteers to help with classroom and school-wide needs. This is just one of many cultural lessons we’ll be learning during this trip, I guess.
All hope of volunteering is not lost. We’ll be walking dogs at the local animal shelter. I’m connecting with a couple people in Barcelona who might have some opportunities for us in the city. While it does feel a little strange to be willing to help but unable to find a way to do it, this situation gives us more time with our family here. We’re having a lot of fun with Mari, Ori and our nieces and nephew. The two-family co-habitation thing seems to be going extremely well. Brian is really getting into photography more and more. He’s taken some amazing photos during our time here, which can be viewed on our photos page.
Also, don’t forget that we’re trying to give away a Samsung tablet on our Facebook page. We’re looking for people to comment and add photos about their own volunteer work. If we can’t find volunteer work for ourselves we’d love to hear about the stuff other people are doing. Please check out how this Facebook contest works and post your own comment in the next couple weeks if you can. So far we have all of 10 entries, so your odds are looking good.