Sara Arielle Sherman, a 25-year-old U.S. citizen has decided to change her life and became a Peace Corps volunteer in Ukraine for two years. Did she have any doubts? Fears? Sure, yes. So, what made her make this important decision?
Read her story as she shares her experience from her peace corps volunteering time in Ukraine.
Why did you decide to become a Peace Corps volunteer?
I wanted to give an international impression of what an American stands for, and provide my help and services to any other community, neighborhood, organization, or individual person in need.
What is your favorite thing about volunteering?
I mainly work with children here in Ukraine, so my personal favorite part about volunteering is making children smile.
Was it difficult for you to decide to change your country of residence and all your lifestyle for over two years?
As it is for most volunteers, yes. However, if you have the heart and giving mentality, a change of place in order to make a difference doesn’t seem that long.
How did your friends and relatives take the news?
Most of my relatives were extremely supportive, and some of them worried about my safety. Keeping in touch with them regularly helps smooth those tensions!
Why did you choose Ukraine as your destination?
Back in America, I kept up with Ukraine and their current situation in the news. To see the pride and love that the people have for their country is inspiring. I wanted to be a part of the change that Ukraine is undergoing now.
What do you like the most about Ukraine?
The locals here have welcomed me with open arms. So willing to care, support and love me – I have felt as if I was home the whole time.
What is different from what you expected?
I can’t clearly pinpoint what I expected to see here in Ukraine because I wanted to come in with an open mind and heart. However, the overwhelming pride and dedication to volunteer or serve their country even if it is from their own homes.
Is there something that surprised or even shocked you?
I was aware of the history of Ukraine and it being that war has affected almost every family in Ukraine. I understood what they went through in history and how it affected the lives of their children and their children’s children.
However, seeing it in person on the rainy Victory Day this year – the extensive line of men, women, and children all holding flowers to lay on the war memorial stone in the center, most of them crying, most of them elderly, was such an impact to see the effects of the war-torn country.
I was moved by the amount of love and care the people had for each other.
What would you say to people, who are thinking about becoming volunteers?
Peace Corps has always put an emphasis on resilience. The key is, no matter the struggle or hardships you experience, the reward will always turn around to be greater.
The act of resilience – despite how difficult it may be, will allow any volunteer to succeed in their service, and end up making a difference in someone’s life. I would not have chosen another way to live my life at this moment.
If this example encouraged some of our readers to also make the important decision to become a volunteer and see the world while making a difference, check out our Travel Resources page for opportunities to volunteer abroad.