When I was asked to write a small blog about my experience so far I was stumped. How could I possibly fit all my unbelievable experiences into 500 words? Well, after some thought it came down to this, it’s been a “ROLLERCOASTER”! The type of ride which you wish would never end even if you get woozy at some points. With the twists, the turns and the lows also came the peaks which made it all worthwhile. With only a few months to go, the time is ticking by and I am faced with mixed feelings of wanting to go home and not wanting to ever go back.
How it began
I was just a simple Zimbabwean girl who lived in the city who didn’t know much about Europe except for what I saw in the movies and on TV. I never thought I would experience living in a snowy European country or even imagined I would survive under -5°c in my life. However, I made a special application to volunteer at Our Chalet World Centre as a Guest Services Intern. I was accepted and that is how my journey to Switzerland began.
My new life for 3 months began on 5th December 2017. When I arrived at Geneva Airport I could not believe that I had finally made it to Europe. I travelled by train for the first time in my life from Geneva to Our Chalet and throughout the journey I kept thinking about my new life ahead.
An unbelievable experience
Our Chalet has given me an unbelievable experience that has been life changing in all the right ways. I was welcomed by snow and to be honest my mind was blown as it was exactly how I had imagined it – magical! I got to build my first snowman, wear my first snowshoes and I got to skate on ice which is something I would never get to do in Africa. My winter experience as an Intern has been amazing with new friends and welcoming staff at Our Chalet which in a few months has become more like a family to me.
The true Our Chalet experience
My experience at Our Chalet has helped me grow, as I have become more independent, confident and have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone. Leaving my family and friends for Christmas was the hardest part, while the best part was making new friends and experiencing Christmas in the Swiss Alps in the cosy comfort of the soft wooden Chalet buildings. I also loved meeting other volunteers from other countries and instantly bonding with them over our shared experiences.
What can I say? It’s been a great experience.
I have gained so much knowledge about the World Centre and WAGGGS whilst volunteering at Our Chalet. I have met so many people from across the world and I have made a tonne of friends.
Hazel C. Zaranyika, Zimbabwe, Winter Volunteer 2017/18