The secret of successful volunteering in local communities

Frank Odoi speaks about his social project "Our Generation Voluntary Organization" in Ghana. International volunteers are always welcome at his project site. Read about his opinion why an international understanding about a cross cultural exchange is so important for volunteerism.

You are a non-profit and non-governmental African organization. How do international volunteers and your communities support your social projects?

As a non-profit and non-governmental African organization, international volunteering supports our social projects through their application and effort in taking part in some of our social works and also contribute massively in terms of ideas, money and voluntary efforts. However, the community as a whole also contributes in supporting our social works through ideas from the various governmental and non-governmental agencies as well as other stake holders in the local communities.

Individuals from the community also apply to be part of some of the project work in our organization and through that we are able to get their concerns towards the various projects in our organization, others also take it upon themselves to research on some projects that our organization embarks on in order to fetch concrete solutions to help the organization run some challenging projects work.

In our organization we believe in the principle that all ideas and efforts needed to promote the social works in organization from people are welcome, that’s why we sometimes demand ideas and contributions from international volunteers and the local communities as a whole.

Volunteers stay with host families during their volunteer stay. Why do you think it’s important for volunteers and families to get connected?

It is exciting to live with a local family. As volunteers reside with a local host family during voluntary exercise, they take advantage in learning the local ways of life such as language, customs, local cuisine, and other local cultures as well as meeting local people and feel more like a local person.

These help them very well to build strong socialization with the local people which can lead to the impartation of Western life on to the local host families.

Furthermore, volunteers benefit a lot in the affairs of the local host families sometimes as they live together in same family house.

In your “Environmental Protection & Conservation” Volunteer Program, volunteers learn all about planting and seeding. Please describe the social impact of volunteers at your project site.

As volunteers contribute in planting and seeding program, they help in maintaining the forest and protect the wildlife. This exercise promotes the natural free gifts of nature such as land, forest, water bodies and the wildlife. The social impact of volunteers at the project site is one of the key principles we carefully considered.

In our project site, we ensure that volunteers work together with other volunteers, local people in the community to achieve a common goal.

We also make sure that there is a cordial relationship between volunteers and the local people at the project site. However, volunteers are supplied with required materials needed to perform their work without any challenge. Where a volunteer faces challenge resource personnel are employed to give volunteers necessary advice and assistance.

 

Why is an international understanding and a cross cultural exchange so important for local communities?

The international understanding about a cross cultural exchange is very important in volunteerism. This form of education given to volunteers gradually prepares them to understand the cross cultural difference such as cross cultural knowledge, cross cultural awareness, cross cultural sensitivity and cross cultural competence.

Cross cultural knowledge is very important for the volunteers as it helps them to appreciate and understand other cultures.

It also refers to a surface level of familiarization with cultural characteristics values, beliefs and behaviours.
Cross cultural awareness develops from cross cultural knowledge as it helps the volunteer understand and appreciate a culture internally. This may also be accompanied by changes within the volunteer’s behaviour and attitude such as greater flexibility and openness.
Cross cultural sensitivity is a natural by-product of awareness and refers to an ability to read into situations, contexts and behaviours that are culturally rooted and be able to react to them appropriately.

However, it helps volunteers, as they no longer carry their own culturally determined interpretations of situations or behavior (good/bad, right/wrong) which can only be natured through both cultural knowledge and awareness.

Tip: Why would you recommend a volunteer to leave his comfort zone and volunteer abroad?

Volunteering strengthens your ties to the local communities and broadens your support network, exposing you to people with common interests, neighborhood resources, and fun and fulfilling activities. Volunteering is also a great way to meet new people, especially if you are new to an area. One of the best ways to make new friends and strengthen existing relationships is to commit to a shared activity together.
Dedicating your time as a volunteer helps you make new friends, expand your network, and boost your social skills. Volunteering allows you to connect to your local community and make it a better place. Volunteers are often the glue that holds a community together. Even helping out with the smallest tasks can make a real difference to the lives of people, animals, and organizations in need. One of the better-known benefits of volunteering is the impact on the local communities.
While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people.

Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills, since you are meeting regularly with a group of people with common interests.

Once you have momentum, it’s easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts.


Apply now!

You are interested and you want to apply for the “Environmental Protection& Conservation Volunteer”  program? Click here and apply now. Our Generation Voluntary Organization is waiting for your application!

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