'The year my family spent in the North Pacific'

Julie and Peter Wren spent a year volunteering in the Republic of the Marshall Islands with their two young children. Many years after returning to Australia, Julie reflects on the profound impact the experience had on her family.

A person snorkeling underwater in a coral reef.

Julie volunteered as Principal of Majuro Cooperative School from 2001-2002 and Peter was a volunteer Project Manager with the Marshall Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In her words, Julie shares some special memories from that time and how the experience shaped her family.

My family and I agree that volunteering in the Marshall Islands gave us the equivalent of 10 years’ of experiences packed into one.

In that year, our children snorkeled pristine azure reefs, learned about reef sharks from experts, picnicked under palm trees and hunted shell treasures.

They learnt to how to sail and how to desiccate coconuts. They kept hermit crabs as pets, camped on remote atolls, and jumped off the bow of the Greenpeace ship.

As our children got to know other kids, we were invited to neighbourhood events, and formed strong and meaningful friendships with many people who are still our friends to this day.

Both of our children took on leadership roles at school and organised lunchtime games. They met all sorts of people: locals, expats, ambassadors — even the President!

After a year in our beautiful pink home, we were hesitant to leave our community.

Back in Australia, the children had a rich source of personal experiences to draw on throughout their studies. Our daughter Ros was even presented with an award for her volunteering commitments in the community.

The first-hand experiences of living and working as volunteers has given us a special understanding of what it means to be global citizens. Our volunteering experience continues to bond us as a family and enrich us in unique, wide-ranging and deep ways.

Stay up to date on the latest volunteer assignments.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.