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STM Volunteer: You are the punchline

Updated: Dec 3, 2022

You want to change the world.

To your friends and family you are incredibly driven, capable, and inspiring. To the machinery of big-international relief and development agencies you, a STM Volunteer, are not even on their radar.


There are huge systems already in place.

cog in the STM machine
  1. Famous brand name agencies have done this work for centuries.

  2. Experts have written the book on centuries of failures.

  3. Researchers spend millions of dollars to study and research and collect and collate and teach new standards and you don't have this insider language

  4. Rock stars bring their massive star-power and swagger

  5. Countless students with doctorates in international studies are willing to work for anyone, anytime, anywhere just to gain some practical experience so they can start to pay their student loans.

To this massive beast of an industry – you, a volunteer with a good heart and a few months – are barely noticeable.


You are not even a cog in this machine … yet.

You are looking to volunteer - but it is tough to enter into this world. As a STM volunteer you are the punch line to the jokes. For the expats on the ground, the two weeks you spent in that Guatemalan orphanage, cruise around the Caribbean and band trip to Europe don’t count. You are unpredictable, unwanted and untested.


You want to understand but you don’t know the insider language that development experts speak. You won’t even realize it when you are being evaluated: When someone asks to see your EPR or whether your WASH program meets SPHERE – you will be judged and dismissed in moments. You are rejected before you even knew it was a test.


They see the idealism in your eyes, passion in your heart and enough support from friends and family to stay on the field for a few months and they will wait for you to fail and go home already.


That’s the bad news

Here is the good news.


  1. You are not alone.

  2. You can succeed.

  3. And you will make a difference if you are willing to change everything you thought was right.

There are a thousand reasons why you can’t do this, you need the one reason why you will.

What’s your reason?


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