BY ANNETTE ARNOLD
When Tom Shumate decided to take a vacation this year he didn't want to go to Disney World or on a cruise.
He wanted to go on a "volunteer vacation."
He found on the Internet a group called Globe Aware, a nonprofit organization which offers volunteer vacations in Peru, Costa Rica, Thailand, Cuba, Nepal, Brazil and India. These 1-2 weeks in service focus on cultural-awareness.
So Shumate got in touch with the group and took a 10-day vacation to Peru.
I wanted the vacation to be more of an experience-type thing and I wanted to help out the kids who are there," shumate said.
Shumated helped special needs kids who were in an orphanage in Peru.
The 19-year-old 2002 Chesterton High School graduate still beams when he talks about his experiences there with all the children.
"I was working with the children from 6 a.m .to 8 p.m. every day and would play with the kids," shumate said. "Many of them taught me sign language. About 70 of them were deaf."
The children at the orphanage ranged in ages ffrom infants to age 16.
"It was very hard to leave there when my trip was over," Shumate said. "I bonded with many of the older boys and got along with the girls as well. The kids really made this trip enjoyable."
The kids made it so much fun that Shumate didn't mind the 17-hour flight to Peru.
"My parents were a little nervous before I left on the trip but now they are happy that I had a good time and know I was there doing something good."
Shumate hopes to return there and do another volunteer vacation through Globe Aware. When he went the first time he took soccer and tennis balls with him because the kids there don't have too much as far as sporting equipment.
"Seeing the kids and how happy they were made it all worth cominghere and makes up for what the trip costs," Shumate said. "People from all over take these trips and volunteer their time in different countries."
Shumate said people are welcome to check out the Web Site at www.globeaware.org. The group is always looking for people to either attend the trips and they also are looking for donations. "THey are in need of sunscreen and all types of sports equipment," Shumate said.
When Shumate does go back he will be a volunteer coordinator for a few months while there. He eventually wants to be a policeman.