When I am asked what Global Volunteers means to me, the answer is easy. Global Volunteers changed my life. From my first program in an isolated village in 1989 in Guatemala, my life has been filled with gratitude for the people and things in my life.

When I had to carry water from a water spigot two blocks from where I was staying, just to lay it in the sun to be able to take a hot shower, I became so grateful that I was able to return home and turn on a faucet and find that it was not only hot but safe to drink.

I was teaching an English class in a small village near Ho Chi Minh City and a family of one of the students invited me and my team to their two room home. The father went out to the backyard to get coconuts so we would have something to drink while we visited. I learned to be grateful that I had enough, maybe too much, to eat.

Or when I visited a handicapped child’s home in Quito and found eight people living in a cinderblock room the size of my ten by ten bedroom, I realized that I really did not need a bigger home, I was grateful for the small home I owned

And how about the program at a failure to thrive clinic in Iasti, Romania where I took care of a five month old abandoned infant girl who did not even have a name. I often wonder what happened to Inga, the good Swedish Minnesotan name I gave her.   I may not have a lot but I do have a name and a family.

I am thankful to Global Volunteers for showing me all of the things I have to be grateful for. And take it from me, gratitude is absolutely all it’s cracked up to be.

Sue Surma – 24 time volunteer