Volunteer abroad is the process of doing unpaid work in a foreign country, oftentimes in a developing country in great need, with the goal of simply having a positive impact on the people and environment of that country. Volunteers can be any age, but the vast majority of volunteers tend to be young people between the ages of 18 and 30. As a volunteer, you must be willing to give your time and energy to help the people around you and teach them practical skills that they can use in the future, thus creating a sustainable environment. Volunteer abroad work is very diverse, and you can choose which type of program most interests you. The most popular types of work include teaching and environmental conservation.
In return for their services, volunteers are being given a very rewarding experience, as well as a chance to live and work in a foreign country, learn the local language, participate in local customs and traditions, and travel. Many volunteers begin with little or no experience, and return to their home country with many new skills, making them more attractive in their respective job market.
No matter what your interests, there is a volunteer abroad program available for you. While the most popular programs are teaching English, building houses, and working in conservation, many organizations remain flexible with the type of work you can do, oftentimes accepting suggestions from volunteers. Whatever work you do, it’s important to be open minded and flexible.
In addition to working alongside local community members and organizations, a good quality volunteer program will encourage total immersion, meaning volunteers may be placed with a host family. When living with a host family, you’ll be able to observe the local traditions and customs, eat home cooked meals, and experience the living conditions of that country. This is the best way to get to know a place and its people.
Developing countries need the most help. As a volunteer, you should be willing to accept the conditions of whichever country you’re sent to, and dedicate yourself to improving those conditions. If you’re worried about issues of safety, know that volunteer opportunities should have solid, well-established connections with host countries, and that they have taken every precaution to ensure volunteers’ safety. There are many developing countries that are too dangerous to welcome volunteers, and this is why you will see many volunteer organizations offering opportunities in the same countries. The most common destinations are Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, Peru, Thailand, China, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Ghana, South Africa and Kenya.
Volunteering abroad is an incredibly rewarding experience, especially if you are immersed in the local culture. Take this opportunity to learn the local language, eat local foods, interact with local community members, observe local customs, traditions, holidays, and celebrations, and just become a part of the community.
During their downtime, most volunteers choose to travel and explore their surroundings. You can do this on a daily basis, after your workday is complete, and explore your local surroundings, or you can take time on the weekends to go on longer excursions with other volunteers, locals, or by yourself, to far away places. You can also choose to save your traveling for after your volunteer service is over. There is no limit to the types of beautiful places you’ll be able to see as a volunteer. Choose a country that is the most interesting to you, and make a plan to see as much of it as possible!
Being immersed in a foreign country means you’ll most likely be exposed to new languages. As volunteers, you’ll probably be speaking English during work hours, but you also have a unique opportunity to learn the local language by interacting with locals, talking to your host family, or taking classes. Many volunteer organizations offer orientation programs before volunteers begin their work, which oftentimes involve intensive language training.
Volunteering abroad is a great way to spend your time, energy, and money. Not only will you be helping to develop a country in need, but you’ll be receiving a life changing experience in return. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people volunteer abroad and come back to their home countries full of new skills, new friends, and unforgettable memories. Be sure to do research before you go by reading through various websites and becoming familiar with the programs and volunteer reviews.