By Fey Josephs
VE Assistant Director of Operations from Pennsylvania, USA
My name is Fey, otherwise known as the vegan godfather of VE, as the new volunteers like to call me. I was a four month volunteer back in September 2010, yet still find myself living in Santiago, now working full time for VE Global as the Assistant Director of Operations.
I´ve traveled north and south through Chile, I´ve seen my volunteer site almost close and manage to stay open, I´ve made incredible friends, learned Chilean Spanish and made some really silly mistakes along the way. I have developed both professionally and personally through my work at VE and my life in Chile. I´ve gained new experiences that have shaped who I have become, how I see my place in the world and what sort of job I´ll look for when I return to the U.S. in March.
The hardest part about leaving Chile will be leaving my kids at the Jardín, where I have been volunteering. Over the past year and a half, these kids have taught me about patience, compassion and the joy in the simplest of things. One of my favorite memories was with a 5-year old boy who is one of the sweetest and most mature children at the Jardín. We had been reading a book about a family and once we finished it I asked him about his family; whether he lived with his mom or his dad, whether he had any pets, etc. He answered and then asked me the same questions. I explained how my parents live really far away, all the way in los Estados Unidos (the United States). He looked up at me with big eyes and asked “Tía, los echas de menos?” “Tía, do you miss them?” I explained that I did miss them a lot and he sat there with a concerned face, pondering my problem. Then, as a light bulb went off in his head he said “Tía, llámalos por teléfonopo! “Tía, just call them on the telephone!” And with that, he ran off to play, sure that he solved my problems.
Although in reality, it may not be that easy, I will always keep these simple solutions with me wherever I am, as well as the many other lessons learned from these young children.
As I prepare for my trip back home, I realize how grateful I am to VE for providing me with such an incredible opportunity to create strong relationships with the children, get to know an amazing international community of people and work in such a supportive and nurturing environment. I am proud to have been a VE volunteer, director and soon to be, alum. I look forward to see how I move from this experience into my future, and to see what role VE will continue to play my life. There’s a phrase we often say: “once a VE volunteer, always a VE volunteer,” and for me it has never felt truer.
And I want to give a special thanks to my dear office team Josh Pilz, Mariah Healy, Jamie Ensey and Lily Gordon, for being my family this past year and a half.