When volunteer Philip Nalangan landed in Laos in January 2020, his vision was to spend three months helping USAID Laos Microenterprise to design communication products, increase the project’s presence on social media, and recruit the permanent outreach specialist. The pandemic changed everything when health and travel restrictions prevented Philip from attending public events, conducting field visits, or even going into the office.

Relying on technology, Philip quickly adapted to the new reality and continued to provide communications support to the project – virtually. When it became clear that finding a local outreach expert was not feasible, he identified an existing team member with interest in communications and worked patiently to build their capacity and develop training for staff and project partners. Philip’s assignment extended far beyond the original timeframe because of international travel restrictions, but even after he was finally home in the Philippines, he continued to provide training and mentoring to the Laos team. “Being a volunteer was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life, and I am happy that I had this opportunity with ACDI/VOCA. I see the world as a never-ending possibility for change, and I look forward to volunteering again,” says Philip.

“As a volunteer, don’t travel with your own expectations – travel not knowing what to expect, and it will make the volunteering experience so much more rewarding.”

— Philip Nalangan


Daniel Flaherty, a farmer from the State of New York who volunteered four times in Kyrgyzstan, won the 2020 Farmer-to-Farmer Volunteer of the Year Award for his successful outreach efforts.

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