Build Abroad chats with Kathryn Pisco
Kathryn Pisco created Unearth The World, a volunteer placement company that promotes unique and life changing volunteer travel experiences.
Q: What does it take to quit your job to travel and volunteer for a year?
A: It was crazy. We lived and worked very traditional lives but were always obsessed with travel and volunteering. The more you get into your career the more difficult it is to take time off and making a decision is scary, but the more we started planning the more doable it seemed. You really only need a passport and a visa for the first country you’re going to, a flight in and a general idea of what you want to do over the next months. We resigned from our jobs the same day and learned a lot along the way
Q: What is the biggest thing you have learned?
A: We knew we wanted to incorporate volunteering and be more than just a tourist. We wanted to immerse ourselves in the culture to do projects with locals. We didn’t understand there was “good” and “bad” volunteering and learned how to find projects that made bigger impacts than others.
Q: How can you train to travel internationally?
A: There is a ton of training for people about culture shock and global citizenship, how to conduct yourself as a foreigner traveling abroad. When you’re out of your comfort zone can be difficult to react or conduct yourself in a certain way. Training helps. Do things in local community first to take yourself out of your comfort zone. Go to a different church, or neighborhood or restaurant where you’re completely out of your comfort zone to practice what that feels like.
Q: How do you vet your community partners?
A: We start off with research, are they community driven, solving or working toward solving a social issue in that community and is financially transparent? Is it safe? The country, community, and volunteer site. Lastly is it something meaningful, impactful, and something people would want to do.
Q: Why do you volunteer?
A: I grew up volunteering my whole life. I went to 12 years of catholic school and it was part of my upbringing. Every experience was the most selfish and unselfish thing you can do. You leave feeling great. The motivation while traveling came from wanting to have that cultural exchange. We wanted to see and experience international cultures from a local’s perspective instead of a tourist’s perspective, thinking we wouldn’t be able to have that same opportunity from staying in hotels or doing the traditional tourist thing. It was a transformative experience living with locals. Hopefully we made a positive impact but walked away with way more.