Cheers to the Journey: Why I’m Volunteering in Sri Lanka


Saturday I leave for a month to travel 25+ hours to the other side of the world to volunteer with elephants. I am super excited but also have no idea what to expect whatsoever. But that’s the best part, isn’t it?

People ask me why I am going on this trip. Why Sri Lanka? Why elephants? And I don’t really have a specific answer. I haven’t dreamed of Sri Lanka for years. I actually (embarrassingly so) wasn’t totally confident in where it was on a map until I interned at Greenheart Travel.

“It’s an island off of India? Woah! Who knew?”

And although I always have thought elephants were amazing creatures, they’ve never taken my number one rank as favorite animal (but they may be my favorite by the time I return).

What I can say is that I have dreamed of volunteering abroad.

For the past few years I have scoured the internet looking through programs all over the world doing all sorts of things. I have always been interested in animal programs because of my love and passion for them. So the more I researched, the more I looked into programs that made a difference among the other species we live with. There wasn’t any specific country or specific thing I wanted to do abroad. I just felt the need to go somewhere and make some kind of difference.

But when does the dream of volunteering abroad become a reality? When are you actually ready to go on that adventure? I’m not sure you ever actually are. I’m not sure you’re ever fully prepared for that type of unknown. And that’s why when I heard about the elephant conservation program, I knew it was time. The opportunity arose, and I had to go.

As a passionate traveler, I have many places I want to go, some maybe more than others, but I am open to everything. Sri Lanka, as I learned more about it, became more and more interesting to me. I love learning about religion and food and culture, all of which are abundant there. The idea of being on a program in nature appealed to me greatly as a person who loves the outdoors. And getting to learn first-hand about issues affecting elephants and to actively make a difference, well, there really wasn’t any persuading necessary.

So, I take it as it comes. And here I am, heading off to a place I could have never expected. I know I will look back on this moment of having no idea what lies ahead and be so happy I went.  Cheers to the journey.


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