Why Volunteer Abroad?

Why Volunteer Abroad?

If you’re questioning why you should volunteer and do a project abroad, consider these 10 reasons.

They say travelling is a self-centred luxury. Sure, you contribute to the local economy by spending your money. And yes, you think about other people, mainly your friends and family, when you buy them souvenirs. But basically, it’s still 99% all about you.

Do I agree? Yes, I sort of do. Do I think it’s a bad thing? Obviously, I don’t. Or else, I wouldn’t keep travelling and writing about my travels.

Here’s my take on this: I believe every person is entitled to pursue his/her dreams, desires and interests as long as he/she doesn’t engage in unethical or illegal activities. So if travelling is your passion, then go ahead. Explore the world!

But I have a suggestion: Why don’t you try to balance out the scales by making travelling a little less about you and a little more about others? How? By volunteering abroad!

Trust me, volunteering abroad will make you see travelling in a whole new perspective. If you don’t believe me, keep reading. I came up with a list of reasons to convince you to give this fun, unique and rewarding experience a try.

1. To give back

Image credit: Caitlin louise

Let’s start with the most selfless reason — giving back. If you can travel for pleasure, chances are you’re more financially well-off than most people. A lot of people earn only enough to pay for basic necessities or to support their families. Travelling is the least of their priorities. So if life has blessed you with opportunities to travel for leisure, why don’t you pay it forward by volunteering abroad?

I promise you, it won’t feel like a burden or a chore once you give it a shot. You might even become addicted to it. I have! There are so many programs to choose from too — teaching, childcare, construction and wildlife conservation, among others. Select a program that best suits your interests and skills so you won’t feel like you’re working. It doesn’t matter if you can help out for just a week or 6 months. The important thing is that you can spare a bit of time and effort for a good cause. While you won’t be able to single-handedly eliminate the evils of society, trust that in your own little way, as cliché as that might sound, you’ll be making the world a better place.

2. To try solo travel

Image credit: Alex Berger

Visiting an unfamiliar place is scary. Doing it by yourself for the first time is even more daunting. The biggest concern when travelling solo is safety and security, which is why many people – especially females – feel apprehensive about embarking on this liberating experience.

If you want to be eased into solo travel, volunteering abroad is a great way to do it. Just make sure you choose a reputable organisation that will make your safety their top priority and guide you every step of the way. This means they’ll provide you with 24/7 support from the time you sign up until the time you finish your placement.

Also read: Why Travel Solo?

3. To experience a place like a local

Image credit: Official U.S. Navy Page

When you visit a foreign country, sometimes you just want to blend in, and to not be seen as a complete outsider. With volunteering, you’ll get a chance to do that as you’ll be immersing yourself into the culture and the way of life of the locals.

The best part of interacting with locals on a daily basis and being welcomed into the community is that you’ll get the inside scoop – on hole-in-the-wall restaurants and off-the-beaten-track spots that haven’t been spoiled by hoards of tourists.

4. To meet new people

Image credit: USAG- Humphreys

People worry about getting lonely and homesick when travelling solo. But when you join a volunteer program, I guarantee that you’ll never feel alone. You’ll meet so many new people from different countries and backgrounds – program coordinators, other volunteers, host families, etc. – that you’ll feel like a global citizen. I’m sure that even before you head home, your Facebook page will already be overflowing with friend requests! And after your volunteer stint, wouldn’t it be awesome to be able to say that you have established contacts from all over the world?

5. To gain new knowledge and skills

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Imagine volunteering in a foreign country and not understanding a word whenever the locals talk. Not to mention, you won’t be able to contribute properly because you can’t communicate effectively. Frustrating, right? When pointing and using hand gestures just won’t cut it anymore, you’ll be forced to learn the local language of your host country – or at the very least, a few phrases from it – whether you intend to or not.

This is just an example of how volunteering abroad can expand your horizons. You will definitely be exposed to experiences that aren’t available or required in your home country. And that, my friend, is a good thing! So embrace the challenges. Be ready to adapt. Most importantly, be open to learn.

6. To get cheap lodging

Image credit: State Farm

A week in a homestay or volunteer house can go as low as 150 US dollars, depending on your country and program. That’s approximately 21 US dollars a day! And that would usually already include breakfast, lunch and dinner! Some houses even have cooks, housekeepers, hot showers and Wi-Fi! However, rooms tend to be small and there’s a possibility of having to share a room with one or two other volunteers. But who cares? You won’t get a deal like this from any hotel or hostel!

7. To make your resume stand out

Image credit: Alan Cleaver

This is the most shallow reason but nonetheless, it’s still a reason. I just think of it as a bonus.

Technical skills aren’t the only things companies and universities look for in an applicant. Soft skills such as communication and interpersonal skills are very much sought after too. Your volunteer stint can show employers and school administrators that you’ve somehow developed these skills already. Thus it can set you apart from a large pool of applicants. In addition, a lot of employers now have corporate social responsibility programs so finding someone, who enjoys volunteering, is a plus on their books.

8. To take a break from your usual routine

Image credit: Pennsylvania National Guard

You’ve been working or studying day in and day out for years. Do you still enjoy what you’re doing? Or has it become routinely, boring and exhausting? Do you still have time to take care of yourself? Or do you already have eye bags and skin breakouts? From time to time, you need to ask yourself these questions to avoid getting burned out.

It’s not true that taking a gap year or a vacation leave means you’re lazy. You’re a person – not a robot! Sometimes, you need to take a break! Volunteering abroad might just be what you need to add a little spice into your life. It might also be the thing to make you reassess your goals and priorities.

9. To grow as a person

Image credit: Nathan Rupert

You’ll never know what you’re capable of until you get out of your comfort zone. And volunteering abroad will really burst your bubble – in a good way! It’ll make you more independent, confident and empowered. You’ll come home a completely different person – a better you!

10. To appreciate your life

Image credit: J3SSL33

Volunteering abroad will be a humbling experience. After seeing a different side of the world, you’ll realise how lucky you are. You’ll appreciate the little things and hopefully, stop taking them for granted.

Also read: How Travelling Can Be The Best Career Move You Ever Make

So are you ready to change your life as well as the lives of others? Try volunteering on your next trip abroad!


About Author

Catherine Mirasol

A trader in the world of corporate finance but also a frustrated writer and photographer, Catherine admits to being a walking contradiction. Although born and raised in the Central Business District of the Philippines, this girl actually prefers searching for adventures in remote destinations than urban jungles. Follow her quest to become a "World Traveller" on The Wandercat.


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