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March 24, 2023

How To Make Your Volunteering Abroad Experience More Rewarding

Volunteering abroad has become more important in recent years, however, if you are not prepared it can lead to dissatisfaction and frustration. Before you embark on this journey, it is beneficial to know some basic things that will make your trip fulfilling. Here are some pointers to ensure your volunteering experience is a memorable one.

1. Have realistic expectations

One of the main reasons for volunteer abroad participants to get disappointed after their program is because they set their expectations wrong. When you choose to volunteer abroad, be prepared to work hard and adapt to a new environment if you are truly keen to make a difference. It is important to keep in mind that this is not a glamorous vacation and you may find yourself in basic living conditions.

2. Be flexible and keep an open-mind

As an international volunteering participant, it is vital to understand that you will be stepping out of your comfort zone and your willingness to adapt to the new environment and new culture will enable you to adjust quickly in a new country.

Sometimes things do not go as planned and you may have some last-minute changes to your program or things that are unlike what you have ever experienced. The key to having the best experience at such a time is to keep in mind to be flexible and remember the real purpose of your trip and that you are willing to learn to support and serve others.

3. Build relationships

Volunteering abroad is fulfilling when you are able to make meaningful relationships with people from around the world. Be it other volunteers who are working alongside you or the recipients you are serving. Take the time to understand different perspectives so you are able to have a deeper insight into the culture and community you are working with.

4. Set clear goals

To make the volunteer abroad experience rewarding, it is most important that you set clear goals before you finalize your trip. Think about what you want to achieve, which type of program you want to go to, and whether is it children you want to work with or volunteer at a healthcare program. Talk to the organization you are booking your program with, they have experienced program advisors who can guide you to choose a program that will help you have a fruitful experience.

5. Prepare to experience cultural differences

It is without a shade of doubt that the place you go to volunteer abroad will most likely be culturally different than yours. They may have a different perspective on things than you are used to or may be different food than you have eaten. It is essential to have a welcoming attitude toward other cultures if you want to have a good volunteering experience. It is normal in many Asian and African countries to sit on the floor and use your hands to eat.

The use of toilet paper is unusual in many countries and you may need to ask for it or take them with you. They may have different religions and different beliefs than you know. It is beneficial to read about them before you go and be ready to embrace these cultural differences.

6. Research the organizations

There are hosts of organizations that provide volunteering abroad programs with hundreds of projects across the world. Take your time and research the organizations, check how old they are, their credibilities, if they have been vetted by organizations like YOG (Year Out Group), if they have financial failure insurance (for the UK), check if they give you certification for your volunteering abroad program.

7. Research the projects

Once you have decided on a few organizations, talk to their program advisors and find out details about projects and countries you may be interested in. Check the requirements, check if you are qualified to go on certain projects, or if you need to have certain language requirements.

Talk with them if you have any allergies or meal requirements. Talking about these with the program advisor will help them suggest projects suitable to your needs.

8. Learn the language

Except for a handful of projects, most people you meet in the destination countries will have some level of English language proficiency. However, it is good to know some basic phrases of the local language to help you bond with the local people. Knowing even a few words will show that you are open and respectful of their culture.

Finally, volunteering abroad will expose you to a world that you are not used to in your daily lives. If you embrace this as an experience, immerse yourself in the new environment and focus on learning and giving, you are sure to have a joyful and rewarding volunteering abroad trip.

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Dipti Goyal  |  Contribution: 1,205