Dominique Doron – Finding a Way to Make it Happen
Dominique Doron took a 2-month career break in the beginning of 2009. She shares with us how she came to make this life-changing decision, the anxieties she faced in doing so, and how she ended up spending it volunteering in Ghana.
[singlepic=1473,200,,,right]MAKING THE DECISION
From Alternative Spring Breaks in college, to working for a non-profit in NYC, I have always tried to find time to volunteer. Traveling has also been a hobby of mine, although while working full-time, travel usually means a week of vacation here or there – not the culturally fulfilling experience I long for.
While working at Marie Claire as an events coordinator, I met some filmmakers who gave up their jobs and devoted their lives to making a difference in the lives of young Cambodian women. I was so moved by their bravery and dedication, yet felt a sadness come over me because I didn’t foresee an opportunity in my life to make a similar impact in the world.
I was married, needed to work full-time, and didn’t have any money to travel, but I quickly decided that if travel and volunteerism was important to me, that I would find a way to make it happen. Within a week, I decided I would quit my job to spend a few months volunteering in Africa. I wasn’t sure what I would do, where I would go, or how I would afford it, but I had a plan and started doing some research.
Prior to my two-months in Ghana, I hadn’t spent more than one week in any single country. I had vacationed with my husband in Italy, Israel, Egypt, Greece, Spain, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the Caribbean. But, I had never traveled alone, and I had never been in a country long enough to immerse myself in the culture. Part of my goal was to be in another country long enough to feel as though I were living there, not just visiting.
My biggest concern was how I would afford the trip. I spent six weeks fund raising, during which I raised over $4000 from family, friends, and co-workers. Having support is definitely helpful.
I was married, needed to work full-time, and didn’t have any money to travel, but I quickly decided that if travel and volunteerism was important to me, that I would find a way to make it happen.
I felt slightly anxious about quitting my job during a recession, finding work when I got back, and being separated from my husband for two months. I left my job on good terms, reached out to professional contacts before I left (letting them know I’d be back and looking for work) spent as much time with my husband as I could before I left, and left my home life in order to ease the responsibilities on my husband. I definitely felt prepared, which eased any anxiety I was having. Mostly, I was excited!
[singlepic=1472,200,,,right]WHERE TO GO & WHAT TO DO
I did an incredible amount of research. I talked to as many people as I could about countries they had visited, organizations they had gone through, and how they afforded it. One of the biggest decisions for me was deciding what organization to use. I had limited funds and cost was a major issue, yet as a female traveling alone, I wanted to be sure I chose a reputable organization that provided support and guidance. I also spent a lot of time choosing a country. I researched everything from language, customs, and politics, to foods, cost of living, and climate.
I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to work with kids, and chose an orphanage because I wanted to care for young children and babies. And as much as I would have liked to learn a new language, I figured I would have a more fulfilling experience with children if I could communicate clearly with them. I decided on Ghana because it was English-speaking and had a reputation of being welcoming, safe, friendly, and politically stable.