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How to volunteer abroad: Practical tips

Article by GVI


Posted: December 15, 2022

Volunteering abroad is an incredible way to immerse yourself in a new culture, learn new skills and make a positive impact on the local community. It’s also an opportunity to travel and explore a new part of the world while learning about and contributing to issues that are bigger than yourself. If you’re trying to figure out how to volunteer abroad, here are some tips to plan your experience.


Choose an ethical volunteer abroad organisation


It’s important to choose an ethical volunteer organisation to work with. Do your research and read reviews from other volunteers to make sure the organisation is reputable and has a track record of effective and responsible projects. It’s also a good idea to talk to someone who has volunteered with the organisation before to get a sense of the experience. Write down all your questions about how to volunteer abroad before you meet them!


Start planning your volunteer abroad experience

Once you’ve chosen an organisation, it’s time to start planning your trip. Make sure you have a valid passport and any necessary visas for the country you’ll be volunteering in. It’s also a good idea to research any vaccinations that may be required and to purchase travel insurance.

When you arrive at your destination, be prepared to be flexible and adaptable. Volunteering abroad can be a challenging experience, and things may not always go as planned. It’s important to be open-minded and willing to try new things. This can help you make the most of your experience and have a positive impact on the local community.


Volunteering abroad experiences

One of the most rewarding aspects of volunteering abroad is the opportunity to learn new skills. Many organisations offer training programs that will teach you new skills, such as construction, carpentry, or teaching. These skills can be invaluable in your future career, and they will also help you make a more meaningful contribution to the local community.


Another important aspect of volunteering abroad is cultural immersion. This is your opportunity to learn about a new culture and way of life. Be open to trying new foods, participating in local customs, and learning the local language. This will not only enrich your experience, but it will also help you build stronger connections with the people you’re working with.



How to volunteer abroad: Choose a program

One practical way to volunteer abroad is to work on a community development project. These projects can range from building schools and hospitals, to providing clean water and sanitation, to supporting small businesses and farmers. By working on a sustainable community development project, you’ll be able to see the direct impact of your efforts and make a lasting difference.

Another practical way to volunteer abroad is to teach English as a foreign language. Many organisations offer teaching programs that place volunteers in schools and other community organisations. By teaching English, you’ll not only be helping people improve their language skills, but you’ll also be providing them with valuable knowledge and tools that can help them succeed in their careers and personal lives.

Overall, volunteering abroad is a rewarding and enriching experience that can have a lasting impact on both you and the local community. By choosing a reputable organisation, planning carefully, and being open to new experiences, you can make the most of your volunteer abroad experience and create lasting memories.


How to volunteer abroad ethically: Avoid voluntourism

The main difference between volunteering abroad and voluntourism is the focus and intent of the experience. Volunteering abroad typically involves working with a reputable organisation on a specific project or task that aims to make a positive impact on the local community. It may involve skills training and cultural immersion, and the focus is on the volunteer’s contribution to the community.

Voluntourism, on the other hand, often involves participating in short-term, superficial activities, such as building a small structure or painting a school, with the primary focus on the tourist’s own enjoyment and experience. It may not have a lasting impact on the local community, and it can even be harmful if it takes jobs away from local workers or disrupts the community.

As a volunteer abroad organisation, GVI connects you with expert organisations in regions around the world. You’ll love and work alongside other changemakers while contributing to community development or conservation projects. Find out more about the adventure.

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