The story of how I decided to do volunteer work abroad, started shortly after I graduated from University. I was unsure about what I wanted to do, but I knew that I didn’t want to continue studying or start a job right away. So, this got me thinking about other possible options and doing volunteer work abroad seemed like something I could pursue.
Top 10 reasons why you should do volunteer work abroad:
1. You will work in a different environment!
If you are thinking about doing volunteer work abroad, here is something you should consider: Volunteering is a job! Doing Volunteer work abroad is not just going to visit a community or be part of a project to do fun stuff. To do volunteer work, you should be aware that you will be having lots of different responsibilites: maybe you will be in charge of children’s education, in a small community in Vietnam; or collaborate with an organization to protect wildlife in Brazil.Whatever you decide to do, you should know this is hard work, but it is definitely work that can be very fulfilling! You might have to work under very different conditions than the ones you are used to, and might have to learn to adapt to different cultural scenarios. This is a great opportunity to learn and grow! It is definitely something that will give you a different kind of work expertise.
2. Get out of your comfort zone
Have you always wanted to visit a new country, but didn’t know where to start looking? Do you often think about doing volunteer work, but don’t know where to start or what you’d be good at? I know it is easier said, than done, but I recommend you to stop thinking, and give volunteer work a go! Live the experience at least one time! I assure you, once you are on board, you won’t regret the opportunity. You won’t only travel and learn about a whole different culture than yours, you will also have the opportunity to try new foods, visit new places, listen to new music and experience something you haven’t experience before.
3. Doing volunteer work is a teaching and learning opportunity.
You might not feel too confindent on the skills you have, and maybe you don’t think, you could teach anything to another person, much less help an entire community. But you will soon realize that everyone has something to offer -including you, even if you don’t believe it yet-. To do volunteer work, you shouldn’t be an expert in everything (although expertise in a useful area, is always welcome). So, don’t be afraid of trying!You might have skills that a social project finds highly valuable: From cooking to gardening, reading, and even speaking your own language, etc. There are a lot of things that will come in handy during your stay abroad. This is also an opportunity to learn: maybe you didn’t know how to do some things, and working with an organization can teach a whole lot of new skills. This is an opportunity that is mutually beneficial, why don’t try it out?
4. You will become self-reliant.
If you are wondering whether you have what it takes to do volunteer work, let me assure you – you do! You will learn to stand on your own two feet and that is something no one can take away from you. Even though it may take some time getting used to unfamiliar territory or dealing with a whole new culture on a daily basis, it will make you stronger and prepare you for unexpected situations.
5. You will discover something new.
It is no secret that going overseas might feel like you are entering unfamiliar territory. But unfamiliar things are always exciting! While you are doing volunteer work abroad, you’ll try out new foods, which you might learn to love; and you will hear new songs, from the country you are visiting, which might become one your favourite tracks. As a volunteer, you will be able to experience a whole different culture: you might feel awkward when Latin Americans try to kiss you on the cheek, when they greet you; or don’t know why your Indian hosts look at you slightly amused, when you eat with your left hand. All these cultural exchanges will teach you so much about the world you live in, that you won’t regret this experience.
6. Be aware of your privileges.
There is nothing like volunteering to give you a new outlook on life, especially if you are feeling insecure about your future. You’ll see how rural communities are thankful for the small things, and maybe realize you are not doing too bad after all. These types of experiences will give you a reality shock like no other. When you do volunteer work in communities that aren’t as privileged as yours (or work to protect the environment), you might value having a comfortable life, and maybe realize why volunteer work is so important. It can motivate you to denounce poverty, poor policy making, inequality and injustice. We can all be change agents, this experience will show you the importance of not being apathetic.
7. You’ll overcome personal limits.
It’s a great thing when you realise that you can surprise yourself! Just take me for example: My voluntary service was the first time I was away from home for a longer period of time and the uncertainty of what was to come, really made me uneasy. After the first couple of weeks however, I discovered that I actually love new situations! Now, I am actually looking forward to going on trips alone or starting my semester abroad without knowing anybody.
8. It is an opportunity to make new friends.
When you do volunteer work abroad, you’ll likely meet a lot of other volunteers that are as lost and fresh as you are. You’ll see them everyday, get to know about their lifes and expectations, you’ll eat together and spend nights talking about what you did and learn during that day. You might make friends for life, and share an amazing experience together.
9. Improve your language skills.
Alors, pourquoi faire du travail bénévole? English: Why should you do volunteer work abroad? If might be travelling to a country where you don’t necessarily know the language. But you can take advantage of the situation to improve your language skills, while interacting directly with local communities. Maybe your English is a little rusty and you’ll have a fun time trying to say things to the locals (who might be as confused as you are). Maybe you don’t speak a word of the local language, but you’ll get creative and explain what you want with hands and feet. You will probably learn some words in Spanish, Swahili, Malagasy, etc. And you will definitely appreciate the difference between the -for example- French spoken in your home country and the one that is spoken in various countries in Africa. All in all, it is an opportunity to learn!
10. Make a difference.
Even though it sounds cheesy, it is still the most important reason to start volunteering. To do volunteer work abroad is the perfect opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s life; or to do something good for a community. You could be happy to know that you made an important contribution to protect our trees, animals, forests and oceans. The social impact that you provoke, by doing something selfless is definitely something you should be proud of! So, don’t be scared to do volunteer work! It will change your life!
So, why should you do volunteer work?
I hope you found some inspiration for why you should do volunteer work abroad! Going overseas to support social projects is very rewarding. Not only can you help to make an impact and join an amazing cause, but being a volunteer abroad is a mutually beneficial experience. So, what do you say? Would you give volunteering a chance? 🙂