Volunteering Abroad Blog


A little less than a year ago, I featured Carl Honeysett as the first “Reader of the Month” on Project Light to Life. If you did not catch Carl’s original story, here are some highlights: Carl is an inspiring, twenty-something volunteer from Queensland Australia, who travels the world and runs a website called VOLUNTEERING ABROAD. As he wrote in his original article, “I’ve since left the comforts of my Australian coastal surfing hometown to give, inspire, learn, adapt, share & teach abroad. I made a decision to volunteer and help others instead of chasing monetary wealth in a pointless rat race. I haven’t always made good choices and I’m glad to be on the right side of life now. Let me tell you about my journey so far.” If you get the chance, definitely check out his initial article, in which he tells his inspiring story. Also check out his Facebook page!


So what is Carl up to now? Here are three articles he wrote about his most recent volunteering adventures!


1). A Much Needed Donation

At the beginning of February, he arrived back to S.C.A.O (Save poor Children in Asia Organisation) in Cambodia, after being away for 6 months. The first time he went there, he took it upon himself to develop a computer class and curriculum for his students to follow. However, he noticed that the laptops were constantly breaking down and students would lose all their work. When he returned to Australia he asked friends, strangers, etc for any used laptops they were willing to part with. In the article, he discusses the results of his efforts.


2). Waterbomb Fight in Cambodia!

“Some of the boys had pre-meditated an attack to push me into the smelly pond of doom and they struck at the perfect moment.”

A fun article about a water bomb (aka water balloon) fight that he had with the children while in Cambodia.


3). Dot Painting in 3D

“May everything in the future of volunteering be completed with such passion.”

An article about how Carl introduced dot painting to students in Cambodia. According to Carl, dot painting is most commonly used by the native Aboriginals in Australia. His family friend is Roger Saunders, who has won numerous art awards and uses this style of painting; Roger added a unique twist to dot painting by turning it into a 3D experience. Carl worked with Roger to learn the art style at a primary school in Australia before passing it on to students in Cambodia.


It looks like Carl has been up to quite a bit since we first met him! Not only is he continuing to volunteer, but his mission and his websites continue to grow each day. If you’re looking for some great reads, inspiration, or even to start your own volunteer mission, definitely check out Carl’s story, blog, Facebook page, and his recent articles! Thank you Carl for continuing to encourage others to pursue volunteering work.

What do you guys think about Carl’s story? We’d love to hear from you!

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The Strangers Project


Several months ago, I became fascinated by The Strangers Project. If you enjoy Humans of New York, it is likely you will enjoy this project. Brandon Doman, who runs the site, has traveled the globe collecting over 7000+ true stories written spontaneously by strangers. He posts the letters on his page. If you have not yet come across his site, definitely check it out!

Because his project is right up my alley, I thought it might be fun to build off this idea and work on a similar project online, using Omegle. I figured that outlet would be best, since the people I speak to will be completely anonymous. Nevertheless, because I wanted a diverse range of responses, I decided to type eight different countries that popped into my head into the “find strangers with common interests box” (The United States, England, Australia, India, Italy, Russia, New Zealand, and Canada).


While listing the country of  interest does not necessarily mean the stranger is from one of those places, I divided up my respondents by the country of interest we were matched up by. Of course, multiple strangers disconnected on me before I could continue my spiel, but I told myself that for now, I would stop once I found five respondents.

Rather than asking the strangers to write letters, I took a slightly different approach and asked them to respond to three questions. Here is how I started most of my messages:

Hey, have you ever heard of the Stranger’s Project? (Wait for response, then explain project).

I’m working on something similar was wondering if you want to help out by answering these three things?

1). What is your biggest regret?

2). What do you think your best accomplishment in life has been so far?

3). What is something you still want to achieve in life/cross off your bucket list?

I kept all of the language in everyone’s answer, but edited some of the punctuation to make the answers easier to read. Without further ado, here were peoples’ answers:



Person #1

1). Hmm, my biggest regret is not working hard enough to get into a good college.

2). Biggest achievement is my gf.

3). And I wanna be a great businessman.

New Zealand

Person #2

1). Dropping out of school.

2). Skateboarding.

3). Become a personal trainer.


Person #3

1). Biggest regret is being less confident and not so honest to people.

2). I think best accomplishment is getting in the top team of soccer in my city, and of course, graduating high school, as I’m only 18.

3). I think my biggest dream is climbing Mount Everest.

Person #4

1). Well, so far I don’t really have any regrets. I mean I’m only a teenager. My life has just started and there are many various possibilities that could happen to me. The world is mine and it’s only a matter of time of just taking and implementing what I want to do.

2). My biggest accomplishment I guess is being good in my academics. I have always studied and worked hard. I’m off to college soon. Also, I am involved in many research projects in which I try to help out my community. Also, I volunteer every week. I think overall, the biggest accomplishment I can give is helping out my community. The thing that is in it for me is the smile on peoples’ faces and that I caused it to happen.

3). To make it short and simple: SKYDIVING

Person #5

1). Biggest regret, I was pretty young, maybe like 8 or 9. My cousin who’s a year older than me always had family issues with the rest of the family, but this day, we were hanging out and she got mad and started yelling stuff at my mom and the dumb kid I was, I joined along, so I yelled at my mom. Minutes later, she was in bedroom and said she had to talk with me. When I entered, her eyes were in tears and her heart was broken, so we talked and she said how disappointed she was with me, so we made up. From that day on, I told myself I’ll never make my mom cry ever again and, so far, I’ve kept my promise.

2). Biggest accomplishment, well it was getting into college with an ACT score of 18. I never been the type to ever take school seriously, even as a child, I was always daydreaming haha, still am today, but back November/December I was the most stressed I’ve been and had borderline depression. I’m normally a layback/chill type of person, so this was all new for me and at this point, I was seriously considering not going to college. But it must’ve been a miracle that I got in. The only person I would’ve cheated by not going to college would’ve been my dad. My dad is one of those immigrant rags to riches stories.

3). My dad has built in his “empire” that will be handed down to me, which is worth a couple million. My goal is to double what he has made and provide for my parents to live the life they always wanted, but were always working. So right now, I’m constantly thinking of these so called “million dollar ideas.” So first thing when I get a lot of money is buy a Porsche 911 Carrera for my dad. It’s a German car and when he was living there super poor, it was one of those cars that you get happy to see, but never get that chance to buy. He has the money now to get one, but he won’t. He wants to save more money in my future so it’s the least I can do for him. And for my mom, a really big house she’ll love to call home and soon all the vacations around the world they want! Now for myself, well, I’m a big car enthusiast, so there’s a couple cars I want that are over 200k, such as the McLaren 650S and the Ferrari 599. And I’ve given myself a 10-20 year deadline to make all of this happen. But I’m aiming for 10-15 right now!


What do you guys think? Do you share some of these regrets, accomplishments, or dreams? Have you ever pursued a similar project? I’d love to hear from you!

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15 Quotes That Will Inspire You and Make You Think


As a bucket list blogger, I think that we all need a little inspiration sometimes. Here are some of my favorite inspirational quotes taken from a variety of sources:

  1. “What a comforting thought it is that the best day of your life may not have happened yet.” – Unknown
  2. “I’m bored is a useless thing to say. I mean, you live in a great big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. Even the inside of your own mind is endless; it goes on forever, inwardly, do you understand? The fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to say ‘I’m bored.’” – Louis C.K.
  3. “Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
  4. Sonder: n. “The realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with [his or her] own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness—an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground, with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you’ll never know existed, in which you might appear only once, as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway, as a lighted window at dusk.” – The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows
  5. “From what we cannot hold, the stars are made.” – W.S. Merwin
  6. But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,/ But often, in the din of strife,/ There rises an unspeakable desire /After the knowledge of our buried life.” — Matthew Arnold
  7. “I want to be famous to shuffling men/who smile while crossing streets,/ sticky children in grocery lines,/famous as the one who smiled back./ I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,/or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,/ but because it never forgot what it could do.” – Naomi Shihab Nye
  8. “Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.” –Dalai Lama
  9. “Thank God for all I missed cause it led me here to this” – Darius Rucker
  10. “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy’.  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” –John Lennon
  11. “This too shall pass.” – Unknown.
  12. “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door” – Milton Berle.
  13. “If not us, who? If not now, when?” – Hillel the Elder
  14. “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  15. “It is never too late to be what you might have been” – George Eliot

What are some of your favorite inspirational quotes?

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Put a Message in a Bottle and Throw it in the Ocean



While the idea of placing a message in a bottle has always seemed romantic to me, I think I should preface this post by saying that, in the future, I promise to make up for all the bad environmentalist karma I’ve probably racked up for this act. Also, I’m not necessarily condoning doing the same thing! I know that in some countries the act is, understandably, illegal. Nevertheless, I checked the laws in the country the bottle was thrown in before doing it and, the item has been on my bucket list for a while, so I figured that carrying out this romantic fantasy at least once would be neat.

Last summer, when I went on vacation in St. Martin with my family, I thought that this location, where I have been going every year for the past twenty-two years, would be an ideal place to leave my message in a bottle. However, as usual, I waited until the last minute and never followed through with my plan. When I traveled to Australia a few months ago, I decided that yes, leaving a message in a bottle halfway around the world on a trip that had a major impact on my life would be ideal. But alas, again I waited too long and think that subconsciously, I didn’t want to be the crazy girl leaving notes in a bottle on the trip. Yet last week, on the last day of my spring break trip to St. Martin, I crossed the item off the list.


Ten minutes before Hot Wheels, our favorite taxi driver friend, was about to arrive at the resort to take my friends and I to the airport for departure, I thought, if you don’t do it now, you’ll either have to throw a bottle into the ocean near your house, which is much less epic, or wait until next year. I scourged the fridge for any empty bottles I could use, but since there weren’t any left, decided to ask my dad if he had any lying around. “This may be sort of gross,” he said, “but you can see if there are any in the garbage.” I opened the lid of the garbage can and after some digging, came across my empty Gatorade bottle from the other day — not quite the romanticized image of the bottle I had envisioned, but it worked. I grabbed the pen on the counter and the notepad the resort leaves in the room, told everyone I would be right back, and ran outside.

I always imagined that when I left a message in the bottle, the note would consist of some lengthy love letter. I would express my unrevealed feelings to the man I love in the hopes that someday, the note would sail across the sea until it reached him. English majors may hate clichés, but I think many of us enjoy the extreme scenarios crafted by our beloved romance writers! Instead though, when I stepped outside, I knew what I wanted to write. I decided to dedicate the note to my grandpa, one of my best friends, who passed away while I was studying abroad in Australia.


As I walked outside, I slipped the note into the bottle, tried to walk as far away from the security guard as I could, pretended I was sitting down on the dock, then let the bottle slip from my fingers and into the sea.

Who knows? Maybe someone noticed the bottle immediately and went to retrieve it, only to not notice the note inside. Or maybe they did notice the note. Because I didn’t throw the bottle in a river, I know the odds of the bottle traveling very far, or traveling anywhere, is rare. Yet maybe it will float for a few days and never be found, or end up on a nearby beach. Either way, I enjoy knowing that what has become of the bottle will always be a mystery.


So although I am not condoning polluting the ocean, I am curious if anyone has pursued a similar project or has a similar item he or she wants to cross off a bucket list? I’d love to hear about your experiences!



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Go Parasailing



For years, my dream was to go parasailing. Whenever I got asked, “What item do you most want to cross off your bucket list?” I often answered, “It’s a bit hedonistic, but I really want to go parasailing!” Ever since I first saw a family we met on vacation in St. Martin over a decade ago gliding through the air as a boat helped them fly, I knew I wanted to try it too. I could not think of anything more freeing than flying over the water and taking in the scenery as warm breezes pass me. The past few summers, I have tried to get a group together to go parasailing at a beach near my house and also tried to go in Australia, but I always waited until the last minute at the end of the summer/trip and plans fell through. Although I have been traveling to St. Martin every year with my family since I was one year old, this year was the first time I traveled to the island with five friends for our spring break. I love spending time with my parents, so going on vacation with them, as well as a group of friends, was a blast. And finally, I got to go parasailing!


Before my friends and I left for the trip, I told them that I didn’t care whatever else we did as long as we went parasailing. I was thrilled when a few of them said they would definitely be interested in going. On the taxi ride from the airport to our resort, I asked our taxi driver where the best place to go parasailing would be and she suggested Orient Beach, a beautiful beach on the French side of St. Maarten (as it is spelled on that side) that is also known for being a nude beach! Of course, there are only a few topless beach goers and I have rarely seen someone in his or her birthday suit.


A few days into the trip, I called Hot Wheels aka Rohan, a taxi driver who has become my family’s friend and trusty taxi driver over the past six years or so. Without fail, we run into him at the local casino a few times each trip too. His nickname comes from the red van he used to drive around in; the van was decked out with flames painted on the sides, acting as an advertisement for Pineapple Petes, a local restaurant. However, Hot Wheels informed us he sold that van for the more sleek white van he now drives that has a big VIP sticker on the front. In VIP style, with reggae music and music videos blaring/playing from the screen that sits at the front of his car, Hot Wheels escorted us to Orient Beach.


At first, I was disappointed when we walked up to the first water sports shed where we had been dropped off and they informed us that they had closed from the day, but was relieved when they said the next stand might offer parasailing. The next stand didn’t offer it either, but directed us to the final booth, where they said we could sign up for the activity. Finally, Ruby, Alyssa, and I signed the release form and were set to take off. Audrey, another friend stayed back at the resort with my parents that day, while Sonia, who had already been parasailing, planned on staying on the beach and acting as our photographer.


When it was time to take off, a young French worker drove Ruby and Alyssa out to the boat on his jet ski. As usual, I was running behind, trying to explain to Sonia how to use the zoom feature on my camera, so the worker came back for me.


On the boat, the Frenchmen helped us put on our gear and the “photographer” took a few photos before the launch. The workers had us in stitches when they asked us each for our individual weights. Ruby and I gave him ours, but Alyssa didn’t realize the worker was adding Ruby’s weights and mine together when he pointed at Alyssa and said, “Ok, so 240.” “I don’t weigh 240!” she said laughing She was reassured after we said he was just adding our weights. “I’m going to go home and develop an eating disorder after going on vacation with the Barbas!” she joked. As the boat took off, we were lifted into the air and sailing above the sea. The photographer motioned at us to wave at him and I couldn’t stop smiling.


After hearing my mother’s parasailing nightmare story in Mexico when she was about our age, I was a little wary. She said that there, the parasail even went over cliffs, and at the last minute, when she told the workers she didn’t want to go anymore, they refused to listen and took off as she screamed that she didn’t want to do it. I also remember the family we knew that went years ago describing how when the parasail went too close to the water, they were dunked in the ocean and the water went up their noses.


Still, while my friends and I all agreed that we thought parasailing would be a little scary, I thought that even those experiences would be a blast. However, we all decided it was such a peaceful experience and how we wished we could sit up there all day, eating lunch and having cocktails. Unfortunately, the ride was only about eight minutes. Still, it was worth the fairly pricey cost. As my friend Alyssa said, who knows when we might do something like that again? Although most of them were far away, I was glad I purchased the photos the photographer took of us from that day. He even left us with a few great selfies!


So does anyone else want to cross parasailing off his or her bucket list or has been parasailing before? I’d love to hear about your experiences!



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South Korean Students’ Bucket Lists


A few months ago, I was thrilled to receive a kind email from Laura, a teacher from England, who taught English to students in South Korea. Here are some snippets from her email that made my day:

“First of all, thanks for the consistently awesome blog! I’ve been following you for many months now and always enjoy reading about, and being inspired by, your kind acts! I’m an English teacher in South Korea and I actually used your blog in one of my English classes with high school students a few weeks ago. I printed off your kind acts and volunteering page and asked students to comment on them and to choose one thing they would like to do for themselves, and gave them a month to do it. I’ll find out next week if they actually have or not!”

“I really admire your work and you have really inspired me to make more regular and conscious efforts to do nice things for people since reading it! And without you, I wouldn’t have read The Happiness Project, another positive inspiration for me! Your blog has inspired me to send an email to someone who’s inspired me, try to help people if they drop things, regularly take food into work for other teachers, write birthday letters to some of my students and although not in a public place (I live in Korea and my Korean isn’t up to that standard) I have written positive sticky notes and stuck them in my apartment.”

Aside from such an encouraging email, I was excited to see that Laura asked her students to write bucket lists and enjoyed reading her post about the students’ lists. If you get the chance, please check out her post for an entertaining read, as well as her blog, for a series of inspiring stories from abroad!

What did you guys think about her post and the students’ bucket lists? What do you want to cross off your bucket list? I’d love to hear your input!

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United Arab Emirates (Dubai)


#14 United Arab Emirates (Dubai)

Although I would love to say that I explored Dubai, one of the wealthiest cities in the world, where they have gold-plated vending machines with gold bars sitting in them and the police drive Lamborghinis, the truth is that I only got to see Dubai’s airport en route to Australia.


Even so, I would like to describe my experience flying on Emirates and eventually landing in the Dubai airport. While I cannot complain, since my destination was Australia, I was a little concerned about taking two 14-hour flights.


However, Emirates treats its passengers like royalty, or at least in comparison to other airlines I have been on. The flight attendants wear adorable red hats, walked up to me asking, “Hot towel madam?” one of the menu items was lamb, and there were hundreds of television, as well as movie options to watch. I also enjoyed how the airlines feigned twilight with fake stars on the ceiling of the plane as if it were nighttime. Although the peasants in coach did not get to experience the bar on the second floor of the airline or the beds they have for passengers, the other classes had the option of enjoying that as well. Yet one of my favorite parts of the flight was watching the commercials set in Dubai, especially the Atlantis Resort that is located there.


The Dubai Airport was beautiful. Of course, we fulfilled the American stereotype and our first step when we arrived was McDonalds. Although the prices eventually translated on our credit cards, it was comical seeing Hamburgers listed as costing about $20.


Here are some fun facts about Dubai Airport, as well as Emirates, according to Wikipedia:

1). It is the 7th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic and the 2nd busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic.

2). The airport contributes majorly to Dubai’s economy and employs about 58,000 people.

3). Emirates handles 64% of passenger traffic and is the largest airline hub in the Middle East.

4). The airport has three terminals and Terminal 3 is the second largest building in the world by floor space.

The inside of the airport is also a giant mall. Although I did not get to explore the city, being in this atmosphere was exciting in itself.


Dubai8 (Leaving Melbourne Airport for the flights home.)

Dubai15(Back home in the winter cold!)

So has anyone ever been to Dubai Airport or stayed in Dubai in general? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

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