There are several different commotions knitted around the concept of volunteering abroad. Some consider it a tough ask and skip doing it, while some consider it nothing but yet another holiday time abroad, just a bit deviated. Despite being one of the most resourceful, positive, eventful, and helping ways of traveling abroad, there are people who either have half knowledge about the concept or completely uninformed. Being an ardent traveler, I have been to a lot of places around the world, and at times have been a part of volunteer programs as well. The understanding that I got about the concept of volunteering abroad was nowhere near to what I used to think it is. And since I believe it is the same with others who haven’t had a chance to indulge in this act of overseas altruism, I decided to take the responsibility to share information and spread awareness about this concept. Here is what you may have never been told about volunteering abroad.
It is not JUST A VACATION.
One of the major differences between a leisure holiday and a volunteer travel is that under a volunteer travel abroad, you are traveling not JUST for yourself, but to make life better for numerous underprivileged. It’s a responsibility that you carry on your shoulders and need to be highly dedicated and focused towards it.
There will be occasions when a volunteer would be required to spend time at the project location more than the scheduled hours, simply because it is required or a necessity arrives. One should be bold enough to set the priorities right and ready to dedicate, what is otherwise, their ‘off time’ in the project work; the main objective of the trip.
Even outside the project work, a volunteer must know when, where, and how to adjust and be flexible with the situation. Accommodation provided to the volunteers is on sharing basis, either with a host family or in a volunteer house. This calls for a high level of understanding and flexible approach from the volunteers to live in a share & care environment.
Interacting with the natives will help a lot.
It is said that it’s not the distance that keeps people apart, it’s the lack of communication. While volunteering abroad, it is a great practice to involve yourself in productive and informative conversations with the natives. This not only helps in understanding more about the people, culture, and lifestyle of an area, but also helps dearly in making a creating strong bonding.
Also, it is a common yet integral fact that to make the best of your time in a foreign country, you must try and learn as much as possible about the country, making things easier to execute. Whether it be with the recipients of the project you are working in and the local sub-ordinates you work with, or the local host family you are living with, all are potential sources for forming strong bond through effective communication, and learn more.
At times you may skip a beat, and at times it may break, too.
Whether traveling to spend a leisure holiday or for volunteering abroad, one thing remains intact; adventure activities! Even while volunteering abroad, volunteers get the weekends off from project and can utilize the time to travel around the destination to explore adventure opportunities. Numerous enthralling activities such as, trekking, safari, mountaineering, scuba, zip-lining, forest exploration, river rafting, etc. you name it and the kind of adventure is on the list.
And talking about skipping a beat from thrilling experiences, adventure activities aren’t the only catalysts. There are centuries old monuments and heritage sites with their intriguing stories, breathtaking natural landscapes including tall mountain peaks, deep blue oceans, and lush green plantations, and of course, the gorgeously tasting variety of food.
However, the sad part (and probably the only time during the entire sojourn) about all this is that like everything in the world, even the project work comes to an end. You spend weeks with the project and make memories for life, bonding with the people, and it then becomes really hard to leave such lovely souls to return home. The times you shared with the lovely kids at a childcare project, the interesting conversation with the host family at the dinner table, the jokes cracked with the fellow volunteers, all this and more reach its climax, and is now a set of beautiful memories.
The experience will make you want to travel more.
If you are one of those who has volunteered abroad earlier, you must be busy scheduling your next volunteer abroad trip already, while for those who haven’t tried this eventful way of traveling must know that once done, all you would want to travel for ever again will be to volunteer abroad.
I remember volunteering under the Childcare project in Thailand, for a month. Once my project got over and I was back home, I was instantly on to planning my next volunteer trip to Tanzania. And that is exactly what happens with whoever travels to volunteer abroad. Once you get done with your project, all you would crave to do is to schedule another trip soon to volunteer abroad. The point is, this way of traveling abroad (volunteering) intrigues you to the core and changes your perception towards life, traveling, and more importantly yourself.