When looking to travel, there are a few paths you can take. You might travel because you are on holiday with your family. You might travel because you’ve decided to take a solo trip. You might even travel because you’ve made the decision to live abroad. Then, you might travel because you’ve decided to volunteer overseas.
If you are considering volunteering abroad as a path for you, you might be wondering whether the experience will be worth it. If you are working a lot, will you get the chance to explore? Questions like these will be fresh in your mind.
The truth is, that every volunteering experience will have its own ups and downs. Each experience of volunteering abroad will be different because each country comes with its own culture. If you volunteer in Ghana, you’ll have a very different experience from volunteering in Greenland. You can’t decide wholeheartedly whether volunteering is completely worth it, because each experience will be different. There are, however, a few things most volunteer programs have in common that will help you make your decision.
You’ll learn new skills
You may think that volunteering is an opportunity for you to help others. While this is true, the opposite is also true: you will be helped by volunteering. Volunteering should teach you new skills, from interpersonal skills to a whole new language.
These skills will often develop you personally and professionally. Often, volunteering is helpful for job applications, as you can display lots of useful skills, such as resilience and problem-solving.
The danger of ‘voluntourism’
Voluntourism is an issue that has gained traction in recent years. It alludes to the idea that people volunteer abroad mostly for the ability to visit another country. It asks questions over whether or not these ‘volunteers’ are actually doing anything helpful, or mostly going abroad to satisfy their own wants. Critics think this phenomenon comes from the idea that white people want to feel like saviors for those suffering abroad, even if they might not actually be suffering.
Voluntourism isn’t a great way to volunteer abroad, as it doesn’t actually do any good. When looking for a volunteer program, ensure you find one that is actually helpful to the community in which you’ll be participating.
You’ll have time to explore
When volunteering abroad, you might be worried that you won’t have time to explore. This isn’t true! Most volunteer programs give you time off to look around the country you are in. Though you won’t be paid – that’s how volunteering works! – there will be plenty of beautiful, natural landscapes you can discover for free if you are on a tight budget.
Make sure to look out for the best spots to explore in the country you choose to volunteer in.
Volunteering will be a great experience – as long as you do your research!
Volunteering isn’t for everyone, but if you put in the effort to understand what you are really signing up for, you should have a life-changing experience.