Whenever you read the news these days, it’s difficult not to see the challenges facing different communities, populations and countries across the globe. Whether it’s deep-rooted poverty, a lack of access to healthcare and education or damage to the environment, we’re having to face up to a range of global issues.
For those inspired to act, volunteering abroad can see you working alongside others from all different countries to solve these challenges. Whatever your passions and interests, there are volunteer abroad programs and opportunities to match- all of which are in desperate need of an extra pair of enthusiastic, helping hands. While wanting to change the world is probably inspiration enough, there are a variety of benefits to volunteering abroad. Here are our top 6 reasons you should volunteer abroad!
Why Volunteer? You Can, and Will, Make a Meaningful Difference
The most powerful reason that motivates people to jet across the globe and volunteer overseas is the desire to make a difference. For many, they’re driven by a need to give something back to the rest of humanity, and nothing is more rewarding than seeing the small, but valuable impact of your efforts.
You might watch as a student in your class becomes confident in speaking English: a language that will be vital to their future. Perhaps you’ll help villagers to rebuild their homes and community centre in an earthquake-torn country. Either way, doing volunteer work is a means of having a positive impact on the lives of others.
Volunteering Abroad Helps You REALLY Experience a Country
When you travel, it can be hard to escape the feeling of being an outsider in a community. Of not having the chance to learn about the reality of life in the places you visit. Many of us hope to interact with locals to have a better chance of understanding the country, but often this is easier said than done.
Volunteering abroad changes all of this. It’s a gateway into becoming part of a community, as you live and work alongside local people and other volunteers in places that are sometimes remote and far from the traditional tourist trail. You may get the chance to live with a host family, work alongside different local people and get to understand their lives, including their hopes and dreams. Ultimately, volunteering abroad can make you feel less “foreign” and more at home in your new country.
Benefits of Volunteering: It Can Give You Direction in Life
Whatever stage you’re at in life, one of the greatest benefits of volunteering abroad is learning about yourself. You might come away with a new direction in life, whether it’s a degree in an area of study you never realized you were passionate about, or a new career path that was sparked thanks to your volunteering experiences.
For many, it’s just the realization of how important working with others around the world is and how collectively we can make a difference. Whatever the specific impact it has on you, volunteering abroad will be an experience that stays with you for the rest of your life.
Volunteer Work Reminds You of Your Privileges in Life
Even if you don’t regard yourself as being wealthy or particularly privileged, volunteering abroad is an eye-opening experience. You’re struck by the realization that even the sheer fact of having a stable home and a family, knowing where your next meal is coming from, and being able to attend school are all privileges that we too often take for granted.
When you meet young people who spend four hours each day walking to school so they can get a decent education, or meet parents living in slums who work 20-hour days to try and feed their children, what it means to be “privileged” comes into sharp focus. It’s an excellent way of putting your own problems into perspective and realising what your priorities are, or should be, in life.
The Extra Advantages of Volunteering
Volunteering opportunities put you in unique and inspiring environments. You work alongside like-minded people from around the world, who share your values and are just as committed to changing the world. For many volunteers, the friendships (or even relationships) that they make volunteering stick with them for long after they finish volunteering.
These new connections are also present unexpected possibilities. Volunteers are never short of a place to stay or a local tour guide when they’re traveling the world, as international friends will always lend a sofa. You find that the people you meet volunteering abroad become an important part of your future and you never know in which country you’ll bump into them next.
Volunteering Teaches You to Rise to Any Challenge
Volunteering will possibly be the biggest challenge you’ve ever faced. Not only are you working with a whole new group of people and attempting to use a language other than your own, but you might be confronted with extreme poverty and hardship – something that can be emotionally draining.
One of the greatest benefits of volunteer work is the way it teaches you to overcome any hurdles sent your way. Teaching an English class of 40 young people with only a whiteboard, a pen and a tennis ball? Sure – you learn how to deal with any situation.
In fact, being able to think on your feet, problem solve in any context and have the confidence to face pretty much anything that life flings your way are just some of the incredible skills you acquire by volunteering abroad. It’s hard to find an experience that teaches you so much in such a short period of time. This realization of what you’ve achieved, and how far you’ve grown as a person, will have you signing up to do it all over again!