In today's date, 'volunteering' has become an important concept - and people of all ages, mostly millennials and retired personnel, are indulging in this. Before we dig deeper into the matter and find out what the benefits of volunteering, let's first take a look at how this popular concept is defined.
According to Wikipedia, Volunteering is generally considered an altruistic activity where an individual or group provides services for no financial or social gain "to benefit another person, group or organization".
Build Abroad puts it like - "When you look at the reasons why volunteering is important, it’s not only about the impacts we can make in the lives of those less fortunate but the role it can play in making us more tolerant individuals and giving towards the global community. Each of us should be willing to offer our own time and expect nothing in return."
So, the crux of the story is - Volunteering stands for a selfless act. Then how come we are looking towards the benefits and expecting something out of it? Let me simplify it further for you - volunteering, actually, is like a double-sided coin. While you devote yourself to the service of the community, you also get things back in return, which are intangible and can't be quantified.
Come, let's take a quick look at the benefits of volunteering abroad and how it can change your life as well.
Personal benefits of volunteering abroad
1. A sense of satisfaction & accomplishment by serving others.
When researchers at the London School of Economics examined the relationship between volunteering and measures of happiness in a large group of American adults, they found the more people volunteered, the happier they were. Needless to say, a volunteering endeavor will generate a sense of satisfaction in you, leaving you happier than ever. The fact that you can do something meaningful for a stranger, without expecting anything in return, is in itself an accomplishment.
2. It can increase your social and relationship skills.
While extroverts are always at ease in any sort of a gathering, it takes some time for introverts to sink in and gel well. While some people are naturally outgoing, others are shy and have a hard time meeting new people. Volunteering abroad will give you the opportunity to nurture and develop your social skills, since you are pretty far out of your comfort zone, meeting a group of people with common interests. Once you have momentum, it’s easier to branch out and make more friends and contacts! It'll also benefit you once you return back home - you'll start exploring your relationship with your parents, friends & family, and look at things differently - with more love & gratitude!
3. It gives you a chance to meet new people, make friends with strangers and develop new bonds.
While you might set out for the volunteer trip all by yourself, know that you're not alone in this! During your volunteering journey abroad, you'll get to meet several like-minded people from different parts of the world, work together for a common cause, find out solutions for crisis situations and develop new bonds. No matter how different you all might be from each other - in the end, it'll be wonderful to make friends out of strangers and share some incredible moments with them.
4. Understand that 'language barrier' & 'culture shock' are just mere myths! You get to connect with people over emotions.
Most of us have been brought up in extremely protective societies, and our minds have been tuned in a certain way that it takes time to break free and think beyond the box. A volunteering trip abroad would be that stepping stone beyond your comfort zone - when you'll get to understand that language can never be a barrier and emotions work everywhere! Yes, Westerners would feel amused by the way the Eastern world works, and every country has its own set of cultural norms and traditional values, but they just keep adding to our experiences.
5. It can help in boosting your self-confidence.
When we commit ourselves to serve others, and we know that we have the capability to make a difference in someone's life - it eventually boosts our self-confidence! Your role as a volunteer can also give you a sense of pride, and strengthen your sense of identity. And the better you feel about yourself, the more likely you are to have a positive view of your life and future goals.
Professional benefits of volunteering abroad
1. It's an opportunity to gain first-hand international work experience!
There can be no better way of gaining first-hand work experience, other than working for a cause with a group of diverse people, guided by an international team where you get to help others. Thus, it's evident that your volunteering tryst will keep you ahead of your peers and help you to learn a lot, beyond the classroom lessons & textbooks! It’s the best way to add some brownie points to your CV/ Resume and have better chances of getting employed.
2. It'll help you to find your passion and know more about your strengths!
During this volunteer trip, you'll surely come across many of your qualities, which you've never explored before! Maybe, while teaching kids in a rural school, you'll figure out that you have got an innate quality of simplifying subjects, making things easier for children to understand. Or probably, while volunteering for a wildlife conservation program, you develop a passion for photography and start honing your skills. You'll get ample scope to try and judge your strengths and weakness - make sure to work on them, mindfully!
3. Learn a new language, or two!
When you choose to volunteer abroad and live in another country, you eventually end up learning their language (no matter whether it's in bits & pieces!). While we all have the opportunity to learn foreign languages sitting in our city, it's always interesting to learn it from the locals, while living in their land. Since you'll mostly be spending time with the locals, you'll end up learning their language! To add to it, you can also attend a language course, to brush your skills further and it'll help you to connect better with the people you're working for. Also, you can learn the native languages of other fellow volunteers as well, if you’re interested! Know that knowing different foreign languages would surely help you in your career.
4. Learn to work as a team and develop leadership qualities as well.
To say the least, working as a team will be immensely beneficial and it'll help you to develop your skills as a team player. Understand that everyone has a different way to work, and in spite of everything - the motto is the same for all. As a volunteer doing charity work abroad, you will almost always be put in a position of management. Whether this is for a small group of people or a whole team, being able to manage effectively will push your career prospects one step further.
THE RIGHT VOLUNTEERING ORGANIZATION WILL HELP YOU MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES
Now that you know the benefits of volunteering abroad, you must be wondering how to choose the apt program to be a part of. Well, we do understand that you’re going to donate your valuable time in this, so it’s important that you enjoy and benefit from your volunteering.
There are several reputed international organizations, providing a diverse range of volunteering programs across the world. All you need to do is, find the best program that suits your interests, pick a destination you'd want to visit and get in touch with the organization - who'll help you in further planning and execution.
Here are some of the best volunteering organizations providing meaningful opportunities:
Volunteering Solutions - Operating since 2006, they have hosted more than 15,000 volunteers & interns across 5 continents (Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe & Latin America). They provide a wide range of amazing and affordable volunteering projects abroad that would perfectly suit the interests of high school students, college and university students as well as gap year travelers who aim to contribute meaningfully towards the society.
African Impact - Established in 2004, their goal is to take volunteering, internships and group travel as far as it can go, combining genuine impacts with extraordinary experiences in Africa. Having programs in 11 countries across the continent, they are surely doing an incredible job in changing the lives of the people.
GoEco - Acting as a gateway to over 150 extraordinary communities, wildlife, and environmental initiatives - their main goal is to help you make the most of your time abroad and that is why we start by getting to know you and your interests! GoEco provides you with all of the necessary information to help you make informed decisions about the project, the country and the time of year you want to go.
Volunteering India - Based out of India, this is one of the most popular organizations hosting travelers from across the world, who are keen to make a difference towards the developing Indian society. Their projects are based in New Delhi & Palampur. Working closely with local NGOs in India and partnering with many international organizations, they are providing volunteers meaningful work experience at the grassroots level where it is much needed.
Peace Corps - They offer service opportunities for motivated changemakers to immerse themselves in a community abroad, working side by side with local leaders to tackle the most pressing challenges of our generation.
Projects Abroad - A leading international organization, they have been helping volunteers and interns fulfill their potential and make the world a better place for the last 25 years. They believe that international volunteering and internships provide a defining experience for young people as they move from adolescence into adulthood, and they are confident that the work they do transform communities.
So what are you waiting for? Gear up and choose where you’d like to go, step out of your comfort zone and take up a cause to make a meaningful impact in the society. No matter how small your step might be, you can surely make a big difference!