PRLog - Jan. 29, 2013 - VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- As intern abroad and volunteer abroad programs grow in popularity, many are discovering the unique benefits of gaining a life-changing experience while at the same time traveling. Spending Christmas and New Year’s abroad with local families and other international volunteers creates memories that one will cherish for life. Pauli Pehkonen, a Finnish intern doing micro-finance work; Mika Tomita, a Japanese medical volunteer working in a local hospital; and Sofia Simonet, a French intern working at an orphanage, celebrated this past Christmas in traditional Kenyan fashion. They brightened the hearts of the orphans and brought hope to the local communities.
Volunteer Abroad, Intern Abroad, Culture/Language Immersion, Gap Year Programs
Pauli shares, “Christmas here is celebrated mainly on the 25th. The day starts with going to the church for mass. Afterwards people do not like to stay home with the family, like in Finland. The locals like to walk around the village and meet friends and relatives. On Christmas and New Year's, there is mandazi (a fried dough treat popular in Eastern Africa) in every home you might visit. In general, the Christmas experience was very different as it lacked the commercial factors like presents, and of course the snow.”
One benefit of international volunteer work is meeting new friends to share the experience. The volunteers spent their holidays with the local host family, local friends, and other international volunteers. They report from Kenya, “On the 25th, we went to mass where people from different villages gathered to pray and meet each other. We arrived a bit late to mass due to rain. Apparently it always rains on Christmas day here. As we arrived at the church, many children rushed to greet us and shake our hands; for many of them, this was their first time meeting white people. There were around 100 children and they were so happy to see us. After mass, we walked to a town called Birongo where we met some relatives of the host family, and of course enjoyed mandazi. Once we were filled with mandazi, we went to the orphanage, where we gave the children Christmas hats, and had a nice time talking to them.”
While Christmas traditions vary throughout the world, a new year is always welcomed with enthusiasm. That being said, ringing in the Kenyan New Year was quite a unique experience.
“First of all, there were no fireworks, but the children make a lot of noise by screaming and shouting and singing at the stroke of twelve. On January 1st, the day starts with another mass, and then spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and socializing with others.”
Pauli also noted that, unlike his homeland of Finland, Kenyans observe the New Year on January first rather than the last day of December. This does not, however, hinder the celebratory spirit of the day.
Pauli continues, “In the evening we went to town center with Mika, Sofia and a couple of young locals to dance until dawn, in true Kenyan style. Kenyans are very crazy dancers and they know how to shake it! After dancing the whole night, we took one of the first matatus (mini-buses)
An overseas internship brings all aspects of local life to the forefront, from micro-finance and orphanage work to mandazi and dancing until dawn. In the words of Cross-Continental Solutions' international volunteers and interns, “It is something to remember for a lifetime.”
Cross-Continental Solutions provides intern abroad and volunteer abroad programs at many locations around the world, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Explore the options or plan a life-changing trip at http://www.CrossContinental.org.
About Cross-Continental Solutions:
Cross-Continental Solutions provides quality yet affordable intern abroad and volunteer abroad programs, ensuring an exceptional cross-cultural experience for those who wish to make a difference. It is unique since participants live and work side by side with the local people. Covering a wide range of needs, opportunities are available in areas such as: Teaching, Healthcare, Community Work, Business Coaching, HIV work, Care-giving, Orphanage Work, Journalism, Photography, Wildlife, Agriculture, Environmental, Micro-financing, Tourism work, Marketing, and more. There are also cultural education, language immersion, and gap year programs. For details regarding volunteer abroad programs, please visit http://www.crosscontinental.org/