What to Do Before Becoming a Volunteer Abroad
More travellers today are deciding to make their trips more meaningful by volunteering in their chosen destination. Some of the popular types of volunteer work today are to teach English abroad, work in animal sanctuaries, or help build schools and houses. If you are planning on donating your time and skills to help a community in another country, be prepared to have one of the biggest adventures of your life!
But just like any other trip, you have to make sure you are well prepared. Here is an essential guide to ensure your volunteering experience is a successful one.
1. Determine what you want to do
Even if you are paying for your travel expenses and are willingly giving your time, this doesn’t mean you should just randomly choose a program to join. Remember that the recipients of the project and the locals you’ll be helping trust that you are there to somehow improve their lives. Thus, you want to make sure you will be effective in doing your job.
Select work which you feel you’ll be good at. For example, if you are good at grammar, reading, writing, and communicating in English, why not teach English abroad? If you’re passionate about providing clean water to communities, then join a program that builds wells, rain catchments, filtration systems, and so on.
2. Do your research
After determining what jobs you want to do, it’s time to choose which country you want to visit. It would be helpful to also search for organisations that provide volunteering opportunities as this can help narrow down your options. If you want to work with one of the pioneers of volunteerism which provides safe, high-quality, and responsible volunteer travel, check out Involvement Volunteers International.
Sometimes being open to an assignment in any destination can make the adventure even more exciting. For example, if you volunteer in Nepal, you get the chance to visit Mount Everest and help rebuild a country that has recently suffered from a tragic earthquake.
3. Know what the requirements are
Organisations that provide volunteer travel experiences can have different requirements for applicants. Most accept only those who are at least 18 years of age, but there are some who accept younger kids if they are accompanied by their parents or guardians.
Some may also require you to have a certain background or some qualifications related to the volunteering job you are eyeing. For instance, if you want to teach English abroad, you might need a TEFL certification, a minimum number of years of experience, or maybe proof of passing IELTS, TOEFL, or some other English language test. It’s best to research or ask an organisation directly for their set of requirements.
You also have to know what travel documents are needed for the country you’ll be visiting. Find out what sort of visa you’ll need for the volunteer Nepal program you’re joining. Are there any other special papers needed or any vaccinations required? Make sure you know all entry requirements and check if you can comply with them before you agree to go.
4. Get to know more about the project and country
To fully enjoy your experience, it helps to do your research about the place and the locals. Having an idea about the people’s way of life can lessen your culture shock and help you avoid embarrassing situations.
Additionally, it can be useful to know how the program you are joining is helping the community. Learning about how teaching English abroad in underdeveloped countries can actually provide better lives to your students could inspire you to be the best volunteer you can be.