Are you thinking of volunteering, but are still a little unsure if it is for you? Are you worried that volunteering is just another word for a holiday or that you won’t really be helping out?
Whatever concerns you have, it can be a big and life-changing decision, especially if you haven’t previously travelled or volunteered abroad. To help you take this exciting step, we’ve put together our top 10 reasons to volunteer internationally at least once if your lifetime.
1. You will be helping others
By volunteering your skills, knowledge, or just plain old passion and commitment to hard work, you will be providing vital assistance to local projects that truly need this hands-on support. Many great projects wouldn’t exist without international volunteers, especially those in cultures where philanthropy and volunteering are not yet commonplace. However, it is also important to understand that international volunteering can be damaging when not done sustainably or ethically, which is why it’s vital to fully research and understand your volunteering options.
Globalteer is a registered charity and non-profit, and therefore a responsible and ethical organisation to volunteer with so you can be sure that you will definitely be helping people (or animals!) during your placement.
2. You will be healthier and happier
Volunteering reduces stress and improves your mood, emotions and immune system. In fact, according to a London School of Economics report, people who volunteer are 7% happier than those who don't!
3. You will learn more about yourself
Want to better know what makes you tick? Jump into a completely new and foreign situation like volunteering abroad! You’ll find out the situations you thrive in, the ones that are challenging, new things that inspire you, and what makes you the happiest. And most importantly, you’ll most likely discover that you are stronger and capable than you think you are.
4. You will learn about new cultures and countries
When travelling internationally, it can be easy to skim over a country’s surface and not have a proper understanding of its culture, history, society and people. By volunteering, however, you are immersed in the local community and society. This will provide a true insight into the everyday lives of the people, their concerns and hopes for their country, and by the end of your placement, you’ll probably have found yourself a new home away from home.
5. You will meet new people
Not only will you meet and work with local people during a volunteer placement, but you will probably also come across other volunteers from all over the world. Since helping people is a universal value, you are just as likely be volunteering alongside an 18-year-old British student as a 70-year-old retired teacher from the USA. So you’re sure to leave with a new and highly diverse group of lifelong friends!
6. You will gain new skills and knowledge
Volunteering is a great way to build on your current skills and knowledge – for either personal or professional reasons. If you are currently studying or thinking about studying you could volunteer to gain insight and experience in an area relevant to your course. During your placement, you will gain a range of new skills and professional experience, as well as a plethora of unexpected abilities. This could potentially include knowing how to properly walk an elephant, identify several species of monkey in the Amazon, or how to play Peruvian rules chess!
7. You will have no regrets
We’ve all read that quote saying that no one on their deathbed has ever said that they wish they had worked more. It is life-changing experiences like volunteering abroad that you will always remember, and what you will be telling your grandchildren about years down the track.
8. You will be able to explore a new career
Are you at a point with your work where you feel like you need a break or change? Or are you newly graduated and don’t know what you want to do with your life? By volunteering in a specific area you can dip your toes into a career you think you might be interested in. And even if you weren’t looking for a new career before heading abroad, you might also find yourself looking to completely change your career path after volunteering.
9. You will start to learn a new language
Have you always wanted to try your hand at a new language? What better way than spending an extended period of time volunteering in a country with a different language. You may only learn the basics, or you might be inspired to become fluent, but either way, knowing at least part of a second language will open new windows into the world and your travels.
10. You will probably become a lifetime volunteer
Try to find a person who has volunteered abroad and not come back with a dedication to volunteering, either domestic or international (or both!). Since volunteering is healthy for you, this is a great passion to return with, but be ready to start giving up your Saturdays for those bi-weekly volunteering shifts at your local shelter.
Have you made up your mind? Now all you need to do is find the volunteer placement that best suits you. Start your search now by browsing our volunteer projects in animal welfare, conservation and community development across South East Asia and Latin America.