The countdown is on…there are only 56 days until I fly out to Bangladesh for my 16 week placement with VSO and ICS. 8 weeks exactly. That suddenly does not sound like a lot of time! I’ve started to get on with the logistical bits and pieces – booking medicals, getting immunisations sorted and so on – as well as my planning. I am not ashamed to admit that there is a spreadsheet, although VSO do most of the leg work on the planning front. But the whole thing suddenly feels really ‘real’.

I spent an amazing day with the VSO team doing Team Leader training on Friday. There were 12 of us – all different ages and backgrounds – and what an inspirational bunch they all are. All of them giving up a minimum of 4 months of their lives to go overseas to work in communities to help end poverty and to support young people from around the world developing their own skills. There was a lovely (and very young looking) grandmother who decided to apply for the programme after her daughter volunteered with ICS. One of my fellow Team Leaders in Bangladesh will be a very sweet woman who turns 23 pretty much as we fly out. There were teachers and charity workers and a woman with the most amazing blue hair!

We had the opportunity to speak to returned volunteers about their experiences and the reality of leading a team of up to 20 young people in developing communities. I am now terrified and excited in roughly equal measure! I think it’s going to be amazing but I am a little bit daunted by the challenge. I oscillate between thinking that I’ll be up to it to wondering what the hell I’ve let myself in for! But I think that’s a normal reaction when taking on something like this. I am just so grateful for the opportunity to really change people’s lives – be the change I want to see in the world, if you will, to quote one of the other volunteers.

The next stage (aside another 2 rabies injections – ugh) will be pre-placement training in early December where I will get meet at least some of my UK volunteers, which I am really looking forward to. This training will cover much more on the ICS programme, international development and preparation for the overseas placement phase; Friday’s training was focussed on the role and responsibilities of the team leader (predominantly pastoral care for the young volunteers and facilitating their development on the programme).

And of course there’s the fundraising. I am blown away by how generous you all are – in a little over a week, I have already raised half of my target! But that means I still have £400 to go. So if you haven’t already but would like to support VSO’s ambition to end poverty, please head over to my JustGiving page and give as much as you can – I really appreciate it!