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Volunteering Abroad: The How-To’s

Volunteering abroad is a very rewarding way to spend your gap year or vacation, and it is not difficult to find work as a volunteer abroad and both give and receive benefits for doing so. You will not only find the experience rich and rewarding, but also help those living in developing countries to improve their way of life through education and self-sustaining projects.

Students on a gap year, travelers wanting to make a difference to the countries they stop off at, graduates trying to enrich their knowledge of other cultures, and even families, groups and retirees who want to do something useful that makes a genuine difference to the quality of life of others less fortunate than themselves, tend to be volunter abroad.

In return for volunteering abroad you will get the opportunity to meet people and understand their culture and the problems they face in their daily lives. You will learn new languages and volunteer work abroad will also teach you new skills such as construction of homes, schools and clinics, and the installation of such services as wells, irrigation systems and renewable energy systems.

You will also meet a lot of new friends, with many of whom you will form lifelong friendships, and you will also discover things in yourself you never knew existed. Many people that carry out volunteer work abroad find themselves reassessing their own life values, rethinking their careers, and return home with a new view on what is important in life. For others it is another important line on their CV, and offers a broader scope to their experience that opens more doors for them.

Whatever your motive for volunteering abroad, there are many ways in which you can become involved. There are many online opportunities on offer, such as the international volunteer abroad program uVolunteer. Taking that as an example, it offers affordable overseas vacations for volunteers in a number of developing countries, working with national and local governments, charities, other volunteer organizations and the people themselves in fields such as teaching, construction, environmental and wildlife conservation, organic gardening, community and sports development, and in science, technology and media.

There are many other activities in which organizations are involved, and there is something for literally everybody to do, no matter their skills or even lack of them. It is a combination of give and take: you give yourself and your time to help others improve their lives and their homelands, and in turn you receive a richly rewarding sense of satisfaction and self-discovery at the abstract level, and also the more concrete rewards of friendships, and new skills that will apply not only to your future career but also to life in general.

The potential for learning and cultural exchange is considerable. For example, you can learn teaching English overseas and then apply what you learn when you return home. You will also learn to adapt when you arrive in a country, the language of which you cannot understand and have to work with others that cannot understand yours. You will learn patience and creativity, but most of all you will learn humility, which is a quality that many never learn in their entire lives.

On a more concrete note, many colleges and universities will offer credits for volunteer work abroad, either through a student internship or a private arrangement, and you should discuss that with your college if you intend to volunteer abroad during your vacation periods. However, don’t expect an easy time of it, because you will work, so volunteering abroad is not something to decide lightly.

If you work as a volunteer abroad you will sleep well at night knowing that you are doing a very worthwhile and appreciated job. Not many can say that on their vacation! Not many can say that at any time!

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