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Meet Jennifer Wells Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Romina Oliverio, Canada Oct 4, 2009
Informal/Experiential Learning , Technology , Globalization   Interviews


Meet Jennifer Wells Jennifer Wells joined NABUUR in early 2008. She has contributed to countless projects, and currently serves as online project manager for a handful of projects, mainly focusing on disabilities issues. In her excerpt, Jennifer shares with us how she became involved and her experiences with online volunteering thus far.

"My name is Jennifer Wells. I am from the United States and have a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from Kent State University. I am employed as a vocational rehabilitation counselor. My job focuses on working with people with disabilities and coordinating training and/ or other types of support services to help them obtain employment.

"In the summer of 2007, I began seriously looking at different opportunities to expand and use my skill set. I wanted to find an opportunity to work with a program in a developing country focused on improving the lives of people with disabilities. I knew that there was online education, so I decided to search for online volunteering on a whim. I had never heard of volunteering online, but was pleasantly surprised to find the United Nations Online Volunteering website.

"I registered and went through every opportunity, eventually coming across exactly what I had been looking for- Help Grace Association Pakistan Develop a Disability Resource Center. I had found my opportunity, but found myself scared. I waited for several weeks before finally making contact with the organization and was plagued by doubts and questions such as “what if I don’t know enough?” and “will I really be able to make an impact without ever having been on the ground in Pakistan?” To put my fears to rest, I decided to just dive in and was very glad that I did.

"Once this project was completed, I came to know Nabuur via various opportunities posted on the UNV site. I found Nabuur to be a virtual “one-stop shop” of opportunities, joined and have been there ever since. In the summer of 2009, I worked as a project coordinator for Triune Uganda, a project aimed at raising public awareness of waterborne disease, malaria and HIV/AIDS in Uganda by improving collaboration among the church, traditional healers and the medical community.

"Cross-cultural communication and language barriers can be the two hardest challenges to overcome with respect to online volunteering. Many of the projects that I have been involved in are in areas where access to electricity is inconsistent at best. Patience, persistence, and constant communication about progress or lack of progress are critical.

"Project definition is also very important. Many times projects are not as clearly defined as they should be and there is an immediate focus on fundraising versus evaluation of starting from where you are with the resources that you have. Communication and sharing of ideas across all cultures on a consistent basis has been critical in removing barriers and moving projects forward.

"Online volunteering expands your world view. It improves your communication skills and expands your personal network and skills in ways you would not necessarily think are possible. Through Nabuur, I have made many new friends that I would have never had the opportunity to get to know apart from my experience as an online volunteer. It has been the right mix of challenge and opportunity for growth. The volunteers at Nabuur have become an extended “online family.”

"To anyone considering becoming an online volunteer, but nagged by the same doubts and fears that I had, I would encourage you to jump in and try. I guarantee you will walk away changed for the good."



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Romina Oliverio

My name is Romina Oliverio and I'm based in Toronto, Canada. I work as the volunteer manager and online communities manager for NABUUR.com, an online volunteering platform that connects virtual volunteers from around the globe to projects and villages in developing countries. Check us out at www.nabuur.com!
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