As it is today, the world has no shortage of opportunities to volunteer abroad. From internships to guided work-study roles and mentorship hubs, today’s young generation is faced with the challenge of finding the best opportunity, from the millions of offerings thrown out daily.
What we have is a “personalization” problem, and not of quantity. We are constantly faced with the task of finding the best fit from the myriad of offerings.
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Why volunteer abroad?
The importance of selfless service and volunteering cannot be overstated, especially in these times. Our world is currently recovering from the pandemic, and currently dealing with the Russia-Ukraine invasion and other conflicts in the Middle East and Africa (Yemen, Sudan, Mali, etc).
Without volunteers, we would all be overwhelmed.
As governments and other organizations like the UN and Red Cross try to tackle the different problems we now face, the demand for volunteers is at an all-time high.
For young professionals looking to get into the workforce, volunteering in your field of study, or even something entirely new (with some preliminary training) will contribute to addressing the current issues in no small way.
1. Provides you with a sense of purpose
More often than not, volunteering helps you discover your purpose. It avails you the opportunity to be part of something bigger than yourself.
Helping others can give your life a new meaning, or provide that initial spark for your career.
2. Provides a sense of community
Volunteering can help you establish lifelong, meaningful connections to both those you are helping and other volunteers you’re working with. The experience can inspire you to want to get involved in other aspects of your own home community. In the end, you get to foster development and create clearer visions both for yourself and the communities you live in, and impact.
Volunteering is also a great way to meet new friends as well as strengthen existing connections with friends, family, or coworkers. As a volunteer, you will typically interact with people from diverse backgrounds, which allows you to learn and appreciate other perspectives.
3. Increases your social skills
Interactions are a big part of our lives as humans, and communicating properly, and effectively is a skill every young professional should learn.
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to talk to new people and sharpen your social skills. You’ll have the opportunity to develop your future personal and business relationships from simple, everyday conversations.
4. Improves self-esteem
It’s in human nature to measure our progress by our outputs and contributions. As a young professional, contributing to improving the lives of others will do a lot of good for your persona and self-evaluation. It gives you a genuine sense of accomplishment that may help you feel more fulfilled about your future career goals and life prospects.
5. Provides job prospects
Besides acquiring valuable competencies and experience, volunteering gives you the opportunity to secure partnerships, other paid internships, and even mentors in the professional space. If you choose to pursue a career in the field you’re volunteering in, the connections you make during your volunteer stint will increase your job prospects.
6. Creates important memories
Some of the best memories people make are during their volunteer years. Freely giving your time, and sometimes resources, partnering with other individuals from different backgrounds, learning, and a lot of other experiences, expose you to the world as nothing else would.
How to find volunteer abroad opportunities
Lots of international organizations like the UN, Peace Corps, and Volunteer Service Overseas, provide volunteer opportunities abroad. These programs give individuals, especially young professionals, the opportunity to contribute to the development of other communities while learning to appreciate new cultures and paradigms.
Best volunteer abroad organizations
As a young professional, there are lots of volunteer opportunities available to help you get the experience you need to take your career to the next level.
Some of these include:
1. Plan My Gap Year
This organization offers affordable and sometimes free opportunities overseas. They are transparent about fees and are very receptive to female professionals. (93% travel solo and 83% of volunteers are female). Their most popular destinations include Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Bali and they recently opened projects in Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador.
2. Global Vision International
When Richard Walton founded the GVI, he had the vision of providing internship and volunteer opportunities for young people. Since it was founded in 1997, GVI has done just that. The award-winning organization currently provides opportunities for internships and volunteer abroad trips in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Latin America, and North America.
So far, they have managed to send more than 25,000 volunteers overseas on programs ranging from construction to animal care, to education, and beyond, with 95% of past volunteers stating they would want to travel with them again.
3. Love Volunteers
Every year, thousands of Love Volunteers from all over the globe are placed into 1 week to 6-month volunteer abroad projects in Central and South America, Asia, Africa, The Middle East, and Europe, all facilitated by Love Volunteers, a low-cost international volunteer organization.
The organization’s aim is to provide meaningful, life-changing projects around the world. They are currently in over 34 countries around the world.
4. Projects Abroad
Self-described as the “gold standard of volunteer support and safety”, Projects Abroad promises to help travelers fulfill their potential, discover themselves, and create positive change in the world. At the core of their programs, long-term, sustainable solutions provide opportunities where you can be part of ongoing efforts to meet specific goals in places where extra support is critical.
Projects Abroad work directly with local community members and organizations, ensuring that their work meets real needs.
Since its inception in 2006, GoEco has offered affordable volunteer abroad programs and internships in over 45 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. With more than 170 different programs, GoEco is a great organization to check out if you’re looking for a variety of impactful volunteer abroad trips to choose from, from wildlife conservation to teaching English. As a volunteer, you will have 24-hour support from the GoEco team, from start to finish.
All of these programs have affiliations with the United Nations, and over time, you might end up working for both during your internship.
Where can I volunteer: best countries to volunteer
As you look to add more experiences to your overall career development through volunteer programs, here are some of the best countries to volunteer in:
- South Africa
All of these countries have experiences peculiar to them, but we’re certain you’ll have the best of memories regardless of the final choice you make.
Volunteering is one of the best ways to improve yourself. It is both a life-changing and challenging experience. Volunteering abroad takes it one step further, by exposing you to new ways of thinking and cultures, giving you access to other volunteers and their background, priceless network of contacts, and a worldwide platform to develop yourself.
Interested in making your travel and migration plan stress-free? get optimum value for a budget trip? We can make it less cumbersome and achievable. Our visa and travel consultants are on hand to put you through and help you get all essentials ready in caring for your travel plans. Visit Urban Nomads to speak with a consultant through one of the three membership plans.