Volunteer Orientation 2018
“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi
For three days in late January, nine inspiring and committed volunteers descended to our New York City office from the US, Canada, and Britain to take part in the winter volunteer orientation.
During the course of the three days, our soon-to-be-in-the-field volunteers went through a series of trainings and workshops led by CMMB staff and special guests. In addition to learning more about CMMB, our mission, and about the countries where they will serve, the volunteers also received valuable insight into,
- Global health opportunities and challenges
- Cultural humility and cross-cultural communications
- Health and safety abroad, and
- Managing stress and developing resiliency.
The Global Volunteer Team
The team of people who lead the global volunteer program include:
Dick Day, Senior Vice President of Programs
Heidi West, Senior Specialist
Marcia Grand Ortega, Senior Specialist
These are the people behind the “curtain” who spend months and months identifying, recruiting, and interviewing potential candidates to serve as volunteers. They communicate with country office staff in Haiti, Kenya, Peru, South Sudan, and Zambia to do needs assessments so that they can find qualified health professionals whose skills compliment the needs on the ground.
Our amazing volunteer team spend endless hours and late nights at the office in preparation for the orientation. They plan trainings and workshops, find relevant and engaging guest speakers, and organize places to stay and eat so that when our volunteers arrive they can focus on the task at hand, preparing for their time in the field.
Our volunteer team are the people who serve those who are serving the world.
This year we had two guest speakers who came to address the volunteers.
Dr. Terry-Ann Jones, Director of International Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology at Fairfield University led the session about cultural humility and cross-cultural communications. Dr. Jones, who grew up in Jamaica, brought her own experiences interacting and observing US volunteers in her childhood village as the basis upon which to lead this discussion. She highlighted concepts including culture and biases, and the challenges of service abroad. In addition to providing extensive expertise and new resources to our team, she encouraged us to examine our own culture and to try to understand that what we bring with us impacts our ability to develop relationships and serve effectively. The big take-away: observe and listen closely and remember we don’t have all the answers.
“I see intercultural competence as a continuum, a life journey that starts with understanding who you are.” – Dr. Jones
Dr. Helene Calvet – CMMB volunteer and longtime advocate of our work – returned to lead a session about global health opportunities and challenges. Dr. Calvet brought her 17 years of experience in public health and training on STD education to help us review the current definitions, guiding principles and mandates in the field of global health; and the importance of social determinants of health when working with a holistic and long-term focus. She tapped in on her extensive field experience in Mexico, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Guatemala and other sites in Latin America, and on her recent work as a mission volunteer at our Mwandi Mission Hospital in Zambia to illustrate the opportunities and challenges of working within low resource settings and the ethical challenges that professionals may face while in the field.
“Cut your expectations in half, then again and then again.”
New Friendships Forged
Through all the learning and the questioning, perhaps the most important thing to emerge were the friendships. Volunteers with fellow volunteers, and volunteers with the staff at CMMB. Everyone here at CMMB knows that the people who go out to serve in the communities where we work are among our most important resources. They truly are our hands and hearts on the ground.
Three Inspiring Days Captured in Images
To end the three days, all the volunteers gathered along with the staff to share intentions, hopes, and well wishes.
To all our new volunteers, welcome to the CMMB family. We wish you well as you embark on your journey.