He predicted it would be a mind-blowing experience and Patrick Watson’s volunteering trip to Ghana proved to be exactly that.
The Duns teenager travelled from Berwickshire to Africa at the start of January and hasn’t even been back on home soil for a fortnight.
But having learnt so much he is very keen to share his experiences with others.
Eighteen year old Patrick travelled to Ghana with youth volunteer organisation Latitude after impressing at a panel interview in the autumn.
He took his seat on the plane not really knowing what to expect and he admitted himself words couldn’t to his trip justice.
“It was absolutely amazing.
“I thought it would be mind-blowing and it definitely was.
“It was mental to see just how differently people lived their lives over there.
“Materialistically they have got nothing compared to us, yet they are so happy and have a great enthusiasm for life.
“It made me realise how much more there is to see outside of Britain.
“There are so many different cultures and its definitely made me want to travel more.”
Although he had a fantastic time over in Ghana, there was a serious side to Patrick’s trip.
He and other volunteers spent their time in a remote fishing village, educating youngsters on health, hygiene, diet and exercise.
And Patrick said he was shocked at just how much respect the youngsters had for him and his fellow volunteers, given that they were complete strangers to them.
“Corporal punishment is still in force in schools over there so the children are extremely disciplined from a young age,” he explained.
“They were very much ‘yes sir’, ‘thank you sir’ in the classroom but when we saw them out of school they were very chatty and eager to have a good laugh.”
As well as working in the classroom, Patrick and the other volunteers led the Ghanian youngsters in a number of extra-curricular activities, one which proved particularly popular.
“We played a lot of football; they can’t get enough of it over there.
“We also organised a talent show towards the end of our trip where we encouraged the children to sing, dance or do some drama sketches.
“It was very different from shows over here though as there wasn’t any stage or lighting.”
Speaking of shows, Patrick arrived back home just in time to be roped into Duns Operatic Society’s ‘Me and My Girl’, the production he thought he’d miss out on.
“I had envisaged having a week just to chill out a bit when I got home but I got a phone call from Eloner (the show’s producer) asking if I was free to go along to a technical rehearsal the day after and I ended up being in the chorus and having a part with just a few lines.”
Patrick won’t have too long to enjoy his home comforts as he is back on his travels at the end of May, this time to volunteer with Camp America in Nebraska before he takes part in the Great North Run and starts university in Newcastle in September.
“I’ve got seven weeks to prepare for America, where I’m also hoping to do some sight-seeing in places like New York. Before I go though I hope to publish a blog of my diary entries from Ghana and also do a few talks.
“I’ve got one pencilled in with Duns Rotary Club as they were really supportive with a fundraising quiz I arranged before I went.”