For close to a decade, ICS has been transforming the lives of our volunteers and the communities they work in. As this phase of ICS draws to a close, volunteers share their personal highlights.
“My host family made my placement epic”
Host homes frequently top the list of volunteers’ favourite memories from placement. This is true for 30-year-old team leader Jessica Cruse from Birmingham in the UK. She lived with host sister Grace while volunteering in Zambia.
Jessica says, "Grace did everything she could to make me feel at home, immerse me into the local culture, and even included me in social time with her friends and family."
“My fondest memories with Grace were our Friday nights in watching the classic and popular Telemundo TV channel. As two mid-20s females, living a world apart, we shared so many more similarities than differences. Grace showed me friendship and kindness, and made my placement epic!"
“I gained a sister for life”
Alice Apejoy, 27, from Nigeria and Hungarian Reka Toth, 30, from the UK volunteered together in Minna, central Nigeria. Their highlight was meeting each other, and the lasting friendship ICS created.
Reka says, "My ICS journey in Nigeria taught me more than I could ever imagine. I found not only my passion in life, but I gained a sister for life!”
Through this friendship the pair continue to impact on social action together. Alice cofounded an educational social enterprise for teenagers in Nigeria while Reka helps from abroad in her role on the advisory board.
Alice notes that this continued partnership means that, "even three years after placement, we are still as closely knitted."
“Showing young girls that they can be leaders was meaningful”
Empowering young girls to be confident leaders was a real highlight for teammates Lauren Lewis and Alisha Limbu. Together Lauren, 20, from Manchester, and Alisha, 25, from Kathmandu, organised a menstrual hygiene awareness day in their host village in Nepal.
Lauren says, “We wanted to do an event just as two females for other females because we wanted to show the younger girls that they can be leaders.”
With challenges in planning the event during monsoon season, Lauren says the pair only expected a handful of girls to turn up. However, “To our surprise, we had around 50 girls turn up. They were all so engaged and gave us positive feedback. They found it helpful. I would say that this was the most meaningful event as it really gave us the opportunity to prove to younger girls what we as girls are capable of!”
“Performing for the whole village was a confidence boost”
Life in rural Bangladesh was a million miles away from 21-year-old Sarah McCall’s everyday life in the Wiltshire. She loved being immersed in the local community and their culture.
“My highlight was probably our second community action day when we got to try some of the amazing food that was on offer. I honestly don’t think I’ve eaten as much incredible food since that day, it was so good.”
“That day, I performed a dance with another volunteer, that we had choreographed (with help from a counterpart) to a Bangladeshi song, in front of the whole village. It was honestly an amazing experience and such a confidence boost that the audience appreciated it. Amazing food, amazing company and just so nice to see everyone having fun.”
“ICS helped me achieve personal growth”
ICS memories continue long after placement.
For 26-year-old Ugandan Isaac Ndyamuhaki, partnering with ICS alumni and other passionate young people through the youth-led National Youth Engagement Network has been a key highlight.
With a degree in forestry, Isaac has enjoyed building on his skills through the group’s climate-focused actions, including training for women on turning waste into biofertiliser.
“The project has enabled me to advance my career as well as giving back to the community. Through this project I have been able to apply some of the skills and knowledge I acquired from the university there by enabling me to achieve my personal growth.”
"Village sports days were fantastic"
For Londoner Charlie Cole, 23, getting stuck into a new community was an incredible experience he’ll never forget.
“One of my ICS highlights was organising village sports days whilst in Bosan, Nepal. What initially started as a football game between a few people became a popular feature which we as volunteers looked forward to as much as the rest of the community.”
“It brought people from all aspects of the community regardless of age or gender together, as lots of people were always keen to play or watch.”
“Everything and everyone were new and strange to me”
Nepali volunteer Susmita Gopali, 22, loved the challenge of learning to understand her UK teammates and British culture, all while learning more about her home country through swapping the city of Kathmandu for a village in Surkhet.
Susmita says, “working with a different cultural group with different perspectives was quite challenging but also very rewarding [and led] to greater support and a better understanding of each other”.
“Everything and everyone were new and strange to me. Slowly, it became a new family where I got lots of care and support from my teammates and from my counterpart Nicole. She helped me every step of the way, we were sisters and best friends to each other."
So, what’s your favourite ICS memory?
Join in the celebration and share your own ICS highlight with us on social media by using the hashtag #ICS4Change.