As summer time arrives and I begin to plan out my adventures, I am brought back to November 2011.
Meanwhile in England…
It was in the great U.K that I saw some extraordinary pieces of history and was able connected with some amazing students. The non-profit organization that my husband works with, was invited by the community of Wolverhampton, England, to bring their 3D community service assembly to the local schools. This was my first trip to Europe and it was welcomed excitedly, as it gave us all an opportunity to reach out to a different part of the globe. Working with my husband, has so many perks! We did however have to find the money to sponsor an outreach such as this. Of course raising the money is always the hardest and most humbling part, but in the end the hard work always pays off for all parties involved. We had excited donors that gave with the hopes that the program we were bringing would begin to spread globally, and it did!
Once we arrived we were greeted with immense appreciation and gratitude, which it made the nagging jet lag seem like a simple yawn. Just hours after arriving we were whisked from the airport to the green lands of Wolverhampton, where we immediately put on our first presentation. By the time our heads hit the pillow it felt as if we were being awakened at the crack of dawn to present our volunteerism program to the first of many schools.
During the presentations we often like to include humor to keep our audiences interested, as well present our most personal experiences with volunteerism. We soon became aware of the “stiff upper lip” that so many reference as a characteristic of the Brits. The room often felt, well… extremely polite.
The extreme politeness began to take a psychological toll on me. Whenever I am speaking and the crowd is too quiet something happens in my head… “Oh wow it sure is quiet. Geeze my voice is loud. Maybe if I move the mic. Nope still loud. Is that my voice? Oh how horrible! Yuck, why do I sound like that? Oh no, what have I been saying this whole time?”
We of course began to think, maybe were not presenting as well as we think we are, and then floods of students would rush to us at the end of the assembly. We were told we nearly brought them to tears, or that we were hilarious. Ohhh, cultural differences! Americans tend to wear their emotions on their sleeve, and as public speakers from America we found ourselves looking for feedback in the wrong place and at the wrong moments.
By then end of the 12 day trip we presented 19 assemblies and met countless excited students and school administrators. We heard stories from the students that brought us to tears, and found the heart England within the youth. They are ready to give, to give it all not looking for anything in return. The moments where I, was encouraged by students and their stories of volunteerism and overcoming amazing circumstances were the highlights of the trip.
With the help and transportation of our host families, we did somehow find time (although we were extremely exhausted) to take in England and all it’s glory. One of the perks of traveling while giving!
Without our financial supporters the entire trip and presentations would have been impossible, we are gracious for their support and dream of a greater future. Thank you, Wolverhampton for your open hearts, ears and arms. We are excited to take up your invite for a second round of presentations and to find out what the students have accomplished since our last visit.