StoriesBack to Stories

Lessons of Compassion: Volunteering at an Animal Shelter


By Rebecca and Lydia, YES Abroad 2019-2020, India

Rebecca and Lydia were able to connect with their host community through their volunteer work at a local animal shelter. They assisted with various tasks around the shelter such as bathing the animals or cleaning the enclosures. However, it was the connections they formed with the other volunteers that made this experience memorable to Rebecca and Lydia. “Everyone was very welcoming and eager to teach us about the shelter and how we could help,” recollects Rebecca, “the entire animal shelter was run by volunteers who loved animals and came to help in any way they could. I found it inspiring how everyone treated all the animals with respect and compassion, no matter the animal or its condition.”  

Both Rebecca and Lydia saw their time at the animal shelter as a welcome opportunity to practice their language. Rebecca recounts her routine with the pigeon keeper, “[she] was always excited to see me at the shelter and I would greet her with the typical Gujarati greeting, ‘Kem cho, majama?’ which would bring a smile to her face. It became routine for us to converse in Hindi while taking care of the pigeons, and was something I looked forward to every week.”

Lydia reflected with appreciation on how her experience at the animal shelter helped her understand the perspectives of the other volunteers, “when it was time for me to return to the U.S., I had made many amazing connections with other volunteers. One of these connections that stood out to me was with the director of the animal shelter, Moumita Ma’am. We both loved to share part of our own cultures as well as learn about each other's. I am so thankful to have had this amazing experience and all the lifelong connections and skills that it helped me develop.”