Once you have taken the decision to volunteer abroad, it is now time to sort through the innumerable opportunities available and choose the one that meets your volunteering criterion. This is not an easy task as once you start searching randomly, you will find volunteering tasks in many parts of the world, requiring all sorts of skill sets, for both short and long terms and posing many different challenges. The wise thing to do is ask yourself certain questions and answer them to understand what volunteering opportunity is ideal for you.
- What motivates me to volunteer abroad? What am I passionate about?
- What are my learning goals?
- Where in the world would I like to volunteer?
- What are my skill sets? Do I want to use my existing skills or take advantage of volunteering to learn new skills?
- How much time do I have at my disposal?
- Can I afford it, if yes, how much?
- To what extent can I take the physical and mental challenges that are bound to arise while volunteering in an unknown country?
The answers to above question would have given you a fair idea of what kind of volunteering opportunity you are looking for. Let’s elaborate a little on these.
If you are a student looking for academic credit, you need to look for those opportunities that are approved by your college/educational institute. If you are looking for some volunteering experience in your chosen field before you take on regular work or if you are looking at building your resume, you need to narrow your search down to a particular field. Other motives could be travelling and seeing the world, learning about new cultures or simply serving those who are suffering. Let your basic motive for volunteering guide you in your search for the ideal opportunity.
If there’s a cause that’s dear to your heart like working with orphans, victims of calamities, education, healthcare, environment and conservation, then you should look for an opportunity that allows you to work towards that cause. If you are working for a project you are passionate about, you are more likely to see it to the end and derive satisfaction from it.
Time and Money
While there may be any number of volunteering abroad projects that look attractive to you at first glance, you need to dig deep and find out the duration of the project and the expenses associated with it. Volunteering involves investing not just effort, but also time and money. And these are factors that may force you to defer your plans.
The ideal volunteering abroad opportunity for you is the one that you can handle without causing health problems for yourself. If you are physically weak, it is bound to come in the way of having a meaningful trip. Moreover, you need to be mentally strong to handle the pressure and loneliness that you may feel among strangers.
Whatever may be your reasons for choosing to go abroad for volunteering work, ensure that you choose a project that you can learn from in terms of culture, language, skills, human behavior, resourcefulness during adversity and so on. After all, volunteering abroad can be a once in a lifetime experience and your goal should not just be giving to others rather it should be learning by giving.
Finally, remember that an ideal opportunity will not be exactly what you have in mind but the one where you have to make the least compromise on factors that are important to you and the one that results in maximum personal growth.