Kirk from Canada spent time travelling around Southeast Asia before volunteering at New Life. While at New Life, Kirk worked on various teams, helping out with earth building, caring for the ducks, and in the kitchen (where his chef’s skills with the knife came in handy with making our daily salads). In this interview, he talks to us about what it was like to volunteer in a mindful community.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Kirk, and I’m from Canada. I grew up in a small town but I moved to the big city of Toronto when I was 17. I went to school at OCAD University and studied design, and now I have a Bachelor of Design. After graduating I decided to travel Southeast Asia.
How did you hear about New Life and what made you want to volunteer here?
When I started traveling I knew that I didn’t want to do the typical backpacker’s partying traveling sort of thing, so I looked up different ways of volunteering and giving back to different communities across the world. I found workaway.info, a website that helps connect volunteers with different projects, and New Life Foundation was listed on there. I emailed and said I was interested, and they replied at the time that it would be available and that I could show up, and then while I was waiting for a response I heard a bunch of people talking about New Life Foundation and how fantastic it was, so when I got the email back saying that I was able to volunteer here, I definitely jumped at [the opportunity], and here I am!
What was it about the foundation that you found appealing?
The mindfulness of the community, also that it’s a recovery centre. It’s an important aspect in my life. Addictions were in my family and I’ve seen the good and the bad of it; I’ve seen beautiful recoveries. If in any way I could help with that, or be in such a healing environment as New Life then I wanted to be a part of that.
What kind of volunteer work have you been doing here?
Everything from cooking in the kitchen, which I’ve absolutely loved, as well as doing things that I’m not familiar with, such as building the roundhouse, which is the earth building. I’ve also been cleaning duck eggs, herding ducks [laughs], working in the gardens, working in the fields, and I’ve done a lot of things that I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to experience.
What have you found most challenging about being part of this community?
It’s not necessarily the community, but the sun. Being out working in the fields is quite challenging, [especially] keeping hydrated. Other than that, the community itself really facilitates newcomers, it facilitates learning, and it’s a very beautiful community.
What were some of the highlights of your stay here?
Some of the highlights would be the interactions I’ve had with people, as well as the workshops that the life coaches have facilitated. It’s really interesting to learn about mindfulness through things that aren’t simply meditation. It’s working meditation, interactions with people, it all really gets you to think differently. For me personally, I got to do a speaker’s meeting, during which I got to tell my life story or events of my life, and really become vulnerable and open to the community, and that in turn was very healing for me, because I got reflection from that, and it’s something that I would never have expected to do.