Why Volunteering Abroad Should Be On Your Bucket List
With the age of technology bringing us more information about desired locations, must-do excursions, and global events, our bucket lists get longer and longer with no end in sight. Great, at least we know how to stay occupied while we’re here. But prepare to add just one more to your list, if it isn’t already there. And if it is, bump it up. Because a volunteer abroad program should definitely be your next big trip.
Traveling to a new destination is no doubt exciting. Meeting new people, exploring a foreign land, and trying new things are all a part of the adventure. We love to meet the locals, and chat with them to get all the insight on the best places to visit, eat, and dance, but rarely do we think about how we, in exchange, can help those locals. A volunteer project gives you the best of both worlds. While meeting and engaging with locals, you could be helping on a small family-run coffee farm, participate in a medical campaign, or assist with building a new school for the kids in a local community. Here’s why you need to experience an international volunteer program now!A volunteer abroad program should definitely be on your bucket list, its on mine now! #voluntourism #Volunteerabroad Click To Tweet
You Make an Impact on Local Communities
Choosing a luxury vacation in a developing country won’t give you the insight you need to understand why volunteering abroad is such impactful work. Volunteer projects are based where the help is needed most–poverty stricken, underdeveloped neighborhoods. These neighborhoods house common people who live, work, and go to school–far removed from the five-star resorts on private beaches. These projects are often-times not funded by the government, and so, the local organizations who do work to sponsor such projects do so on a very tight budget.
Volunteers help to sustain these projects by providing their support. Healthcare projects bring patient services to communities with little to no access to a healthcare facility, working with kids projects allow underfunded daycare centers to maintain a full staff, and construction projects help to develop the facilities of a local neighborhood. Your support as a volunteer brings an unparalleled impact on communities in need.
You Begin to Appreciate the Little Things
Volunteer abroad projects are almost always set up in developing countries which need the extra help to sustain themselves. These same countries, however, have very developed tourist sites, luxury resorts, and high-end shopping areas making it difficult for a vacation-goer to really see and understand some of the more dire circumstances residents encounter on an everyday basis.
When you choose to volunteer abroad, you get full exposure to the unfortunate realities of the local people. You might learn that the average family makes $4/day, or that the community hasn’t had a healthcare clinic in the area since the strike of a natural disaster. There may be hot water available only during certain hours, so you must schedule your showers accordingly. And that although you have access to that hot water, some other locals may not. And if your hot water goes off, and all you’re left with is cold water, you’ll learn to appreciate that at the very least, you have water. Opening yourself to these circumstances will very quickly make you realize how fortunate you truly are, even if you don’t have the latest iphone.
You Experience the Culture First-Hand
Volunteering abroad puts you in direct contact with the local projects and people. At the project site, you will find a number of international volunteers like yourself, but you will also find the locals who work directly with the projects full-time. Because of their experience, they will usually be the ones to train and guide you throughout your program. Having a direct local contact will allow you more insight into their everyday lives and push you to practice a foreign language, all while building a relationship with someone you otherwise would never have known. Not only do such bonds foster cultural sensitivity and understanding, but often times, lifelong connections that go way beyond the volunteer project.
Also, make sure to choose a program which can organize a homestay so you get the full cultural immersion experience. The organization which you choose should have a number of families whose homes have been verified for safety and comfort. This allows you even more insight to the local routines, traditions, and customs of the household. Every day, you’ll interact with your host family as they introduce the traditional foods, show you around town, and accept you as a member of the family.
You’re Guaranteed a Unique Travel Experience
Some people take the same trips over and over, and return home looking tanned and feeling refreshed. However, those people do not have any unique stories to bring back. Instead, you can tell them about their own vacation without having gone. Volunteering abroad is sure to provide you lasting memories, new skills, and a handful of meaningful relationships.
Even if you volunteer abroad every time you travel, you’re always guaranteed a unique experience. No two projects will ever be the same, even if you volunteer for the same project; The people you meet, the places you travel, the cultures you learn from, and the families you grow to love will always bring something new to the table. Whether you further develop your language skills, or gain more work experience, every factor will also contribute to your personal growth.
**This post is brought to you by our friends at Maximo Nivel. Thanks to them, it is easy to see why Volunteering Abroad Should Be on Your Bucket List. If you are wanting to learn more about Volunteering Abroad, then be sure to check out Maximo Nivel’s programs in Costa Rica, Peru, and Guatemala.**
Don’t forget to Pin this to your Bucket List Board!