Preety Nijjar went on her first volunteer trip with DWC in 2013, after finishing her first year at university. When she returned to Canada, she raised enough money to put a Guatemalan girl through school for one year. By summer of 2016, she was leading her own team to Peru to work on a school in the barrios on the outskirts of Lima.
Why did you choose to volunteer?
Volunteering internationally is something that I was always interested in. Especially after meeting Jasmine (a DWC volunteer who organized a trade show booth) and doing some research on DWC. The organization’s vision/mission and just overall what it stands for was something that I really admired and wanted to be a part of. Also, the DWC staff were so helpful and supportive and promptly answered questions that my mother or I had on trip details.
When I went to Guatemala with DWC, I had an amazing volunteer experience. The host organization, Open Windows, was so great. We visited families, constructed a brick room for a family (the father and main financial provider of the household had recently lost his job), worked with children and helped the teachers with their English, among other things. The memories from that trip are still so very clear to me. And I still keep in touch with my team members.
When I came back to Canada, I truly felt so inspired by the work that Teresa and the others were doing at Open Windows. I wanted to bring that connection home. I spoke to my athletic director and held a fundraiser during one of my basketball games. We raised $500 in one night, which was used to send a deserving young girl to high school for one year.
Not only did I make lifelong friends, but I also saw my volunteer efforts in the context of our global community. Being in a positive and supportive environment, where people from Canada and Guatemala wanted to make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering resonated with me. As DWC’s mission says, this experience showed me that working alongside local people in the developing world on a poverty-alleviating project builds hope for the community, the volunteer and ultimately creates a better and more peaceful world.
Why did you decide to become a team leader?
During my trip to Guatemala with DWC, my team leader Danielle encouraged me to think about leading a trip on my own. After that volunteer trip, it was always in the back of my mind. I was not able to lead in the summers of 2014 or 2015 due to commitments. But summer of 2016 presented the perfect time for me to take on the role.
I am passionate about international volunteer work. I wanted to give back to DWC by trying my best to be a positive leader and role model for others who are interested in and passionate about it as well.
After such a great experience in Guatemala, I wanted to continue my involvement with DWC (and still do!) in a leadership capacity. I felt that being a team leader would be a great way to challenge my leadership skills and to connect with young people who are passionate about international volunteer work. I wanted to support them like Danielle did for me.
What have you learned by volunteering with DWC?
I feel that volunteering with DWC and working with the host organization on various projects puts my life into perspective and reminds me of how lucky I am to have grown up in a developed country. I have so many opportunities that many children we have met will never have.
Having the opportunity to work alongside community members in these developing communities, I really builds hope for all people involved. This volunteer work reminds you that you live in an interconnected world and that you can easily connect with people around the world through service.
Would you recommend others to go on a DWC trip?
A thousand times yes! DWC does such an amazing job of planning the trip and activities and are incredibly supportive. Also, the in-country partners and communities we work with are so welcoming. I know this sounds incredibly cheesy, but it is true when I say that the memories and friendships you make on DWC trips will last a lifetime. I am so fortunate to have had the chance to volunteer through DWC.