Volunteering Abroad For the First Time? Here Are Four Things to Consider
Volunteering in a foreign country is an exciting yet overwhelming task with many aspects of learning. It comes with many experiences, including a chance to explore various cultures, visit exciting places, learn new languages, and eat delicious local food, among others.
Volunteering is a worthy task; it gives you a feeling of fulfillment as you help people around different areas of the globe.
There are multiple reasons for people to sign up for a volunteer program, including:
• Giving back to society
• Helping mankind
• Utilizing energies in a positive way
• For experience
• To travel the world
• To learn about different cultures
There are several ongoing volunteer programs around the world, and many people sign up for these programs every year. While a lot of people sign up for such activities frequently, for first-timers, it can get a little tricky and intimidating.
A new place, new people, unfamiliarity with the local language, and safety concerns can dampen the spirit of volunteering. While you may think that volunteering is fun and games, it does require more than a good heart to adjust in a new environment.
Before you take off, there are a few things to consider. These are:
The first and foremost thing to consider while going for a volunteering program abroad is adaptability towards the unpredictable. Traveling to a foreign country can be an intimidating task for people who do not travel frequently, so it is essential to be flexible. Prepare yourself for unexpected, unwanted challenges and uncertainties. It is essential to schedule your activities, but creating flexibility in your plans is also necessary.
There are multiple situations where things do not go according to the plan, or you have to change plans at the last moments. Volunteering requires you to be flexible as things matter at the other party as well, and you need to be open and listen to the requirements of others as well. Adapting to the changing environments and being open towards new ideas can make you adjust easily and quickly.
Moreover, you must sign up with a group that has local connections in the country as well so that you get a welcoming environment, and the local connections can help you to adjust better.
• Be open towards new ideas
• Be prepared to meet unwanted circumstances
• You will have to go out of your comfort zone
• Do not hold on to your plans and goals rigidly
It is essential to do your homework before you head out anywhere. Researching about the country that you are going to be volunteering in can help you be ready for a lot of things that can surprise you otherwise. It is also suggested that you only sign up for authentic and trustworthy programs that are being run under authorized channels. There is a lot of fraud and untrusted programs available online as well, so be careful before you give out your information.
Moreover, take out some time to research about the culture and the place you are going to. You also need to be fully aware of the program that you have signed up for, including your responsibilities, expenses, time period, etc.
Adjusting according to cultures is extremely important, as you need to respect the norms of your host country. You can read up articles on the internet to explore the cultural norms thoroughly.
• Read online articles about the country
• Explore history
• Read about the things that are forbidden or disliked in your host country
• Meet nationals if possible
• Watch relevant movies/ TV shows
• Interact with travelers
3. Staying in touch
Whether you are going out for a few months or longer, it is essential that you stay connected with your loved ones back in your own country. Too often, people find it hard to adjust to the other country, so it is essential to stay connected.
It is crucial that you set up your mode of communication before leaving so you do not have to worry about it later. You can use various apps that allow video calls and audio messages, etc. This way, you can stay connected and communicate with friends and family back home. You can also share your day-to-day activities and share photos with people back home.
• Stay in touch with loved ones
• Share photos, videos on social media
• Stay connected with friends and text them often
4. Find a program that matches your expertise
It is essential to research before you head out on any volunteer project. There are several different volunteering projects, including teaching, medicine, skill-based training, etc. You should not sign up for just any volunteer program, instead of research about the program and its relevancy towards your expertise. You will fully utilize and enjoy the program only when it complements your skills and knowledge.
Volunteer programs seek individuals of varied expertise to run their program; for instance, an NGO that is working on facilitating remote education may be looking for teachers, educators, academic coordinators, graphic designers, web developers, and internet marketing services providers among other professionals to help develop and promote their service. Finding the program that is relevant to your skills is the key to a fulfilling experience.
In addition, volunteer work that is relevant to your field can help you advance your career as well. Even if you are not signing up for volunteer work for your career growth, it is still recommended to choose the most relevant programs so that you can perform your best.
• The program should be relevant to your education and experience
• Your expertise should be utilized
• Relevant program to be selected
Volunteering is a worthwhile cause; it not only gives us a chance to help others, but it also helps us grow personally. Exposure to other cultures, people, and their way of life makes us more tolerant. However, before you travel to the other side of the world, you need to take specific steps to ensure a satisfactory experience. Researching the culture, preparing to be flexible, making arrangements to remain in touch with people back home, and finding a program that meets your expertise are some tips that can help you adjust to a new country.
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