If you like both doing volunteer work and you like visiting new places, looking into a volunteer abroad program may be just up your sleeve.
These programs are an excellent way to experience new lands and cultures, all the while making a difference. There is nothing wrong with the regular tourist experience, but some people want something deeper and these programs are a great way to fulfill that desire.
If you are considering going overseas to volunteer, just do it. You will be glad you did, I assure you. Volunteering abroad offers a unique opportunity for enrichment and has the potential to change your life; that is no exaggeration.
Self-Discovery and Growth
Travel is my number one passion and my experiences abroad have played a major role in shaping who I am, gaining new insights and perspectives, and learning important life lessons. Spending an extended amount of time in a new country will expose you to so many new things, things that will challenge you and make you think more deeply about life. You will be placed in situations you have never been in before.
You will have your good moments and bad moments, but in the grand scheme of things, the latter are not really that bad because they contain important lessons. These lessons will reveal your true nature, open the doors to self-examination and aid in your growth. I will be the first to admit that spending prolonged amounts of time in a different culture can present its own challenges and frustrations. Yet what you gain is so much greater and I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has not been positively influenced by their international experiences.
Getting an Intimate Look at a Culture
Because our schedules usually do not allow for extended periods of travel, most trips abroad are regimented, with a strong emphasis on following the guidebooks and hitting all major attractions. It can sometimes borders on exhausting and we often do not come away with any real understanding of where we were and the people who inhabit such places. As someone who chose to make her living online so I could spend extended periods of time living in different countries, I cannot tell you the difference in experience when you are able to actually stay somewhere for more than a day or two.
You meet the locals, you get to have real conversations, gain real insights, get a direct look into the culture and everyday life. Your will really begin to see there is a whole different world out there and it is an amazing, exciting realization! For me, this is one of the most rewarding parts of spending time in different countries. Volunteer abroad programs are a great way to get this more intimate and authentic experience.
Learning Important Skills That Will Serve You Well in All Areas of Life
Often times, the insights we gain and the lessons we learn from certain experiences are things that we can apply in every aspect of our life. Spending extended time in a foreign land with a culture different from your own is a goldmine when it comes to this type of stuff. You will learn tolerance and compassion. You will have an easier time dealing with people different from you because you will gain a greater awareness that we are all coming from a different place and are shaped by different experiences. You will communicate better. One of the greatest gifts of my time abroad is developing patience; you will become more adaptable and flexible.
Just Do It!
These are just a few of the many benefits you will reap by volunteering abroad. No matter where you go or what you end up doing, you will not regret it. Start doing your research and pick a program now!
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who is currently hopping around SE Asia long term. She believes traveling is one of the most beneficial things we can do for our personal growth.