Having spent 5 months teaching English as a volunteer in Tanzania on my own gap year, I am passionate about why people should volunteer abroad. This blog details my top 10 reasons for doing so…
1. Learn something new
Volunteering abroad is not just about what skills you can pass on, it is also about learning new skills. We find that our volunteers really benefit from the exchange of ideas with the local people they are living and working with. It is not just a one-way street!
Whether these skills revolve around learning a new language, gaining a qualification or learning a new way of doing a task, it doesn’t matter. Volunteering overseas will give you new skills that you can take on in life.
2. Change your life and help others
It sounds a bit cliché but it’s true. You are not going to eradicate developing world poverty whilst you are on your volunteer programme, but I really do feel that volunteers make a positive contribution to at least a few of the people they come in to contact with.
Speaking personally and as an ex volunteer teacher myself, I certainly feel that I was able to teach the children in my class and help give them a better understanding of English, something that hopefully is helping them now in their careers.
Volunteering abroad changed my life in a big way and set my career direction. Whilst I didn’t continue down the teaching route, I work in the gap year industry, helping to organise volunteer programmes for hundreds of volunteers each year.
3. See the world from a different perspective – living as a local
As a volunteer abroad you get to experience life off the beaten track and escape the traditional back packing routes, even if just for a few weeks out of your wider travel plans.
This gives you the ability to see the world from a unique perspective, the perspective of someone living as a local. By volunteering abroad you get the chance to immerse yourself into the work and community of the people you are with.
4. Gain work experience to boost your CV
Increasingly employers are looking for applicants who stand out from the crowd. By volunteering abroad you are able to demonstrate to potential employers all of the important buzz words that they are looking for. You can show that you are organised, adaptable, have teamwork and leadership skills and that you are determined to see something through.
If you are considering following a particular career path, volunteering abroad can help you gain relevant experience and help you stand out from the ground. If you are keen to pursue a career in medicine, for example, you could head to India and volunteer as a medical intern.
5. Follow a passion
Maybe you have grown up around animals and would love nothing more than to work with monkeys on your gap year, career break or even holiday. By volunteering abroad, you can do just that!
If sport is your passion, why not coach sport to children from Townships in South Africa? By volunteering abroad, you can do just that!
6. Step out of your comfort zone
So much of day to day life follows the same routine. Even holidays that you go on might follow the same pattern. It is increasingly difficult to step out of your comfort zone these days.
Volunteering abroad is a big ask and takes a big decision but, if you can do it, it will show you things about yourself you never knew, make you stand on your own two feet and realise what it is that makes you tick.
7. Make new friends
One thing is for sure, whilst volunteering you will meet people who are on the project for similar reasons as yourself. Volunteer projects bring people together and you can experience something quite unique with them. Hopefully forming friendships that will last a lifetime!
8. Fulfill a dream
Perhaps you’ve dreamt about seeing a lion up close and personal? Don’t spend money on visiting a zoo when you could volunteer your time with a charity that supports the welfare of these magnificent animals.
9. Travel responsibly
People can feel an element of guilt when it comes to travel. Think about the flights you take, are you offsetting the carbon caused by the flight? Are you using local produce and eating local food? Responsible Travel is such an important aspect of volunteer travel and, by volunteering abroad on a worthwhile project, you know that your travels have a purpose and that you can reduce any negative footprint by ‘giving back’ in an ethical and sustainable way.
10. It’s fun!
Whilst you are volunteering abroad for a purpose, it’s important to enjoy your time overseas and have fun! Chances are you won’t be volunteering every single day and there will be time when you can get out and about to enjoy all that your destination has to offer. This might be a once in a lifetime opportunity for you, or maybe (hopefully!) you’ll choose to get involved in lots of volunteer projects abroad throughout your lifetime. Either way, make the most of every opportunity and enjoy it!
Already volunteered abroad? We’d love to know whether you agree or have other reasons behind your choice to volunteer. Maybe you had certain reasons beforehand but, having returned home, perhaps your reasons are very different now?
Join one of our many volunteering programmes overseas. From animal welfare, to sports coaching, conservation or teaching, we have a wide variety of excellent and worthwhile programmes for you to choose from.