THE VoluntouristJune 22, 2014
During my travels, I have had the pleasure of meeting Daniel Sellers. He is 27 years old and a graduate of Eastern Michigan University. He works as a freelance graphic designer in Detroit and at restaurant in the area. Following high school, Dan began to travel and volunteer around the world. His travels delayed his graduation from college, but Dan was able to venture to South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. While visiting the far corners of the globe, Dan volunteered. Seven years later, Dan is still volunteering abroad. He is THE voluntourist. Below, is my interview with Dan where he sheds light on his lifestyle.
When did you first start traveling?
Costa Rica was the first place I went to on my own. I was 20 years old at the time, and that’s actually the first time I went anywhere alone. That’s the first time I had been on a plane by myself. I really didn’t first start traveling until I was a late teenager, but that was only to places in America like Hawaii. But, I forced myself. I picked the country. I went to Costa Rica when I was 20.
When you travel, why do you volunteer? Why not just travel?
The reason I volunteer is because I think anyone can travel. I don’t want to do the hotel touristy thing where you go to a resort. I want to actually immerse myself into the culture, and I find the best way to do that is to volunteer my time in these third world countries; I teach English or help rescue wildlife, things like that. It’s a more rich experience.
Out of all these things that you’ve done, which volunteer experience has been the most rewarding?
That’s really hard to answer because there’s been a lot of rewarding things I’ve done. But the most recent was in South Africa. I took a group of students that I had a couple years prior. My buddy and I raised some money to take them on a trip throughout their country for a week. These are underprivileged kids who live in a poor township. It was really nice to spoil them rotten for a week and let them see their country, parts they had never seen before. But, there are tons of different things I’ve done. I had students in Vietnam-they’re college students. They love to learn about my culture in America. In each country, there are a lot of different rewards for me, and I love it all.
Not only do you go to these countries, but also you do crazy things in these countries. What are some of these crazy things you’ve done and which one was the craziest?
Well, you can vouch for this one, when we climbed Kilimanjaro that was pretty crazy. I still talk a lot to this day how hard that last day was. I struggled getting to the top and even coming down a little bit. That was probably one of my most rewarding days, if not the hardest, but definitely one of my crazier days. But other things that compare: bungee jumping off the highest bridge in South Africa and charming snakes in Moracco. The list goes on, and I can go on for ages about it.
What would you say to someone who’s not sure if they want to volunteer abroad?
I can understand that throwing yourself into any country is a little risky, and it can be scary at first. But I would say just to do it. Do a lot of research like I did my first time I volunteered. I did have culture shock in my first country which was Costa Rica. Then, I met a lot people my first day, and I met a lot of locals that became my best friends. It is scary, but I’d say the hardest part is taking the first step.
7 years later why are you still doing this?
The world is so big, and there is so much to see. You go to one country, and you want to see the next country. You go to this country, and you want to see another whole continent. I never can see it all, and I never will see it all. But I want to see as much as I can when I’m young. I don’t have any ties right now. I’m not married. I’m finished with school, and I don’t have my career job yet. This is a perfect time for me to do it. For me, this is like a drug; it’s very addicting. Once you see something, you want to see more. You learn so much, and you meet all these people from all around the world. Every single time I do this- I’ve had many best experiences of my life. I’m very fortunate, and I love it. I don’t know when exactly I’ll stop.
Where are you headed next?
Throughout the years I meet people from all around the world, from Germany to Australia, Central America, wherever. So this next trip I’m going to Europe for 2 months just to meet up with friends I’ve met throughout the years. After that, I’m going to teach in either Nepal or Indonesia. I haven’t decided which one. Then after that it’s kind of up to me. It’s very unplanned, but I’m going to hop around different countries and hopefully make my way back home. It’s going to be a long trip. I’m planning for about 8 months. I’m planning on spending time in different countries and seeing friends in different countries so it’s a very unplanned messy, crazy trip. I know I’ll start in The Netherlands, in Amsterdam.
Check out Dan's blog here: http://sellersabroad.wordpress.com/
Below are a few photos from Dan's many travels.
Teaching fitness in Tanzania