Could you cope with overseas volunteering?
Overseas volunteering can be an incredible experience. The chance to experience the lifestyle and culture in another country is often a once in a lifetime experience, and an experience that you rarely get from simply holidaying in the country. With volunteering, you also get to make a worthwhile contribution to bettering the world we live in.
However, overseas volunteering can also be a real challenge. Living an working in an unfamiliar environment can be a daunting experience, particularly if the standard of living is somewhat lower than what you are used to in your home country.
Here are some things to consider regarding volunteer opportunities overseas:
What is the duration of the volunteering programme? Two weeks might seem like a good option if you're not sure about the experience, but it may be too short a length of time to make any real impact. Most meaningful volunteer opportunities are at least a month long. Could you commit to an extended period of time away?
Do you speak the local language? Volunteering abroad can be an isolating experience if you can only communicate with a handful of translators and other volunteers. It's worth investing a little time and effort to learn the basics of the local language.
Are you happy to adjust to basic facilities? As lots of overseas volunteering opportunities are based in the developing world, the standard of accommodation and facilities may be very different to what you have experienced at home. Volunteers often share rooms and there may not be Western style bathrooms or toilets.
Are you committed to the aims and visions of the volunteer organisation? When overseas volunteering gets tough, the belief that you're really doing something positive and something meaningful is often enough to get you through it. So ensure that you're working with an organisation that you can align your goals with.