Are there times when you’ve wondered if there’s more to life than lolling around on a hammock through the long months of vacation? Are you curious about other countries and cultures? Are you keen on ‘making a difference’ in some way? Then, volunteer work abroad may be the perfect option for you. Volunteering to work in a social development project abroad expands your mind, boosts your career prospects and lets you spend your time in a way that is fulfilling.
Volunteering abroad gives you invaluable knowledge and exposure not only about the intricacies of a particular area of social development but also about a wholly different culture and people. It makes you stronger, more open-minded and adds to perspective in many ways.
Apart from learning how a professional organization functions, you will spend your time constructively by learning new skills and strengthening your resume. More and more, organizations are looking at volunteer as evidence of a well-rounded personality, capable of hard work (and sometimes, hardship) who will be able to work well in a team and roll with the punches if necessary.
Volunteer work also gives you a chance to to share your skills and teach others what you are best at. There is enough need in the world to accommodate different types of skills and no matter what you’re good at—writing, sketching, organizing, teaching—there is some project out there that is looking for exactly those skills. Working for a social cause also invariably leads to increased self-confidence and personal satisfaction because you are helping others and contributing to society in a meaningful way.
Volunteering abroad is also a good way to explore different career options. You can venture into an area without the fear of making a long-term commitment. It will give you a chance to explore your capabilities, experiment with what you are good at or pursue what interests you the most.
There are many areas of social development: poverty, education, child welfare, women’s rights, rural development, environmental conservation are a few of the common ones. It is important to choose the area you want to work in after careful consideration of factors such as your particular skills and interests, what you feel passionate about, where you would like to work, and how it will tie in with your goals in the future.
For example, if you want to specialize in environmental studies later on, it makes sense to do volunteer work in the same area. On the other hand, if you are planning to do a Phd on watershed management at some point, you may want to look at rural development projects.
There are many websites that offer detailed and comprehensive information on such projects and help you make the correct choice in terms of a volunteer abroad program. There may also be consultants near where you live who will be able to help you in this regard. It’s also a good idea to sound off a teacher or mentor on your plans and take their advice in the matter. After all, if you are travelling halfway across the world to work for a cause, you should make sure that you choose wisely!