10 Lessons Learned While Volunteering Abroad
Volunteering abroad really is an incredible experience. Thousands of people every year participate on programs and the lessons and skills you learn will be priceless in future life. Here are some of the top things you will learn through volunteering...
1. You can make a difference
No matter how much you have read, you really can make a difference. A volunteering program abroad gives you the opportunity to do something special, improve your skills and make a difference no matter how small that might be. You might get to help wildlife, improve conservation efforts or help people.
2. Being open minded enhances the experience
Be open to new foods, cultures, people and ways of life - it will really make the experience easier and more enjoyable. If you arrive at a project with a negative attitude and comparing to your life back home you will not have a good a time.
3. You really appreciate the little things that are often taken for granted
When working in a developing country, some everyday aspects of life like hot water, a flushing toilet and the choice of food and fresh water will never be taken for granted again.
4. Don't let fear get in the way
Just because other cultures or people are different to what you might normally expect, it does not mean they are any worse or anything to worry about . Do not believe everything you see in the media about developing countries.
5. Don't leave with any regrets
Try to make the most of everyday, don't put things off and do as much as possible. Time goes so quick and you will regret it later if you miss our on any experiences.
6. Learn the local lingo
Even if it is just basic words and phrases, people will really appreciate if and give you more time and respect if you try to learn a new language. Being able to communicate with local people will make your time spent volunteering more enjoyable and easier.
7. The learning experience works both ways
People you work with and alongside will learn a lot from you, as you do from them.
8. A smile goes a long way
No matter what language someone speaks in the world, a smile really is universal for all people, ages and cultures.
The confidence and independence gained will really help you in future life. It is not an easy decision to make when considering to join a volunteer project and the experience of completing a program will provide you with a platform for the rest of your life.
10. Voluntourism is Beneficial
It often seems like there are constant negative messages portrayed about the voluntourism industry but there are some really inspiring projects and people working to improve situations on the ground around the world in both developed and developing countries. Some projects ask for a donation or fee to participate and for some organisations like wildlife conservation projects this helps pay for local staff and fund projects which make a huge difference. For example volunteering with elephants in Thailand, a lot of sanctiaries would not be abe to survive without donations and participants helping out.
So if your next question is where do I apply, check the following destinations: