A couple of months ago we introduced you to Workawayers of the month, Shahnaz and Francois, a husband-and-wife duo who volunteered their way around the globe. Adventures like theirs aren’t just gonna become memories that will last a lifetime, but are also the best way to learn. And luckily for us, Shahnaz is willing to pass on some of the wisdom she has accumulated on her travels.
Over the past year, my husband and I went on an extended and belated honeymoon around the world, during which we have volunteered on double-digit projects via Workaway. Most of the projects we picked were farms, but we also helped out at a bed and breakfast, and did some website development for a coaching business. We almost always felt at home (except when we were going through our mild homesickness) and were treated like friends, if not family, regardless of whether accommodation was a bedroom next to the hosts’ or a tent at the end of their garden. Along the way, we learnt. A lot. About farming, homesteading, cooking, chickens, and life. Here are five big picture take-aways I wanted to share with you all:
1. People around the world have more in common than not.
Irrespective of location, culture, or religion, farmers depend on the weather, bed and breakfasts do their best to ride tourism seasons and trends, families are complicated but full of love, pets are entertaining, things break, music inspires, we all want to feel we belong and we all want to feel loved.
2. A helping hand is always welcome.
If you respect the people around you and bring your enthusiasm, skills, and energy to the table to make a difference, whether it’s one weed, a nail, or a paint job at a time, you will find gratitude. Everyone has something they can contribute if they are willing to make the effort, regardless of your background and experience. Have you ever met someone who could not sweep the floor, wash dishes, or hand tools to the person on the ladder? Exactly.
3. The world is full of little pieces of paradise.
Workaway hosts seem to be particularly good at finding paradise and calling them home, and you can easily find beauty and happiness everywhere you go. As long as you have an open heart and mind, every step of your way will help you figure out what your little piece of paradise will look like, too.
4. Food is love.
Across cultures, soil types, and climates, individuals and families – with Workaway hosts leading the way – seem to love cooking and sharing delicious food. There are few things in life as satisfying as a tasty meal in good company. From our experience on farms we would say that harvesting fresh ingredients right out of the garden that would then go straight onto our plate is one truly special way to enjoy every bite of a meal.
5. Traveling blots out the background noise so you can become a better version of yourself.
Whether it’s disconnecting from social media, not having a close friend you can talk to on the phone whilst feeling homesick, speaking in a foreign language, passing the “limits” of your comfort zone will make you realize what really matters to you.. That could mean a hot shower for some, and clean laundry for some others. Regardless, you will have gained perspective and hopefully got inspired to appreciate those simple things we’ve taken for granted all along.
What is perhaps one of the most incredible things about Workaway is that there are hosts in over 180 countries; literally everywhere. So even if you are afraid of flying, or don’t have the budget to go far, you can probably still find a host that is accessible to you and start an adventure that will change you. Because as Mr. Carson says in Downtown Abbey, “What would be the point of living if we didn’t let life change us?”
Shahnaz, thank you very much for sharing these five valuable life lessons with us!
For those who are interested in finding out more about Shahnaz & Francois’s amazing lifestyle and interesting farming stories, be sure to check out their sustainable living blog, Instagram and twitter.