Whether it’s because so many young people are just struggling for cash or they’re more aware of their role in the world, volunteering abroad is quickly becoming the norm. But with so many programs popping up everywhere, it’s a little daunting to figure out where to start.
It’s best to just sit down with a map and pick a place. Don’t worry too much about the location screaming “volunteer.” There are plenty of options in almost any part of the world, so go somewhere you’d really enjoy.
Now change every preconceived idea you have about volunteering and take stock of what you’re actually good at. It’s not helpful volunteering on a building project if you’ve never picked up a hammer, but it is if you’re a Habitat for Humanity veteran. Considering your strengths isn’t just important for your overall satisfaction, it’s more respectful to the people opening their homes to you.
Figure out how long you feel comfortable volunteering and find an option that works within that time frame. Some programs require a few months of commitment while others prefer only a few days. Give yourself some wiggle room for independent travel before or after because volunteering, though rewarding, can be demanding.
Unsure of what opportunities are even out there? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Organic farming in France: wwoof.net
- Washing dishes at a family owned restaurant in Turkey: workaway.info
- Protecting the rainforest in Ecuador: jatunsacha.org/jatun-sacha-biological-reserve
- Teaching English in Thailand : travel-to-teach.org
- Building homes in Costa Rica: habitat.org
- Working with Tibetan women refugees in India: tibetanwomen.org
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