Sergey Pankov, 2014
Hi, I’m Sergey from Moscow, Russia.
In 2013 I met a person who had participated in a few volunteer projects around the globe and her stories inspired me to endeavor on my own adventure. I was open to any kind of volunteer work but Sprout attracted my attention because it looked challenging and unique, I had the chance to make a difference while working with people with mental disabilities. This was also something I had never done before and I was happy to have an opportunity to expose myself to a new lifestyle.
My first trip was to Lake George in July 2014. Time there flew by over many great activities: cruise on the lake, BBQ on top of a mountain with breathtaking views, fireworks and the group’s favorite – rodeo! Every minute of the show gave the participants sheer excitement, a share of adrenaline rush and lots of fun. I remember one of them, even though did not speak, waved and smiled at everybody on the grandstand and people waved and smiled back. My co-leaders and I enjoyed the evening as well. One of the leaders, for example, took part in a dance contest and had all the audience cheering and supporting him. The warm atmosphere of friendship and hospitality made that event a memorable experience for each member of our group.
Sprout vacations, although full of entertainment and fun, sometimes give leaders challenges to overcome. Participants’ behavior and medication, driving in New York City and sudden emergencies occasionally kept me awake long past midnight. Fortunately, I was never alone when faced difficulties as my co-leaders and office staff were always there to help and guide. Besides, it was through those life situations that I have changed to a more social, open and tolerant person, not afraid to take and carry out responsibility and developed my own leadership style.
I came home in August 2014 and realized that 1.5 months was not enough for me to make it as a leader. After all, I only touched a tip of an iceberg called volunteering; therefore the following year I came back to Sprout and then went on volunteering in another country. But that was a whole different story.