When asking someone whether they would like to volunteer abroad, there’s never an easy answer. After all, how could someone make such a huge decision like this?
But fear not – volunteering abroad may be one of the most fulfilling choices you can make, which is why we would like to make that choice easier for you and help you prepare.
Volunteering is a fantastic experience – you have the chance to learn about real life issues that affect people around the world while making friends along the way. But if it is your first time volunteering, it is understandable if the notion makes you nervous.
The best way to gain volunteering experience, especially abroad, is to start with small steps and try something with your local community. So, try spending three hours every week helping out in homeless shelters or teaching young children. While you are doing so, you are also gaining the confidence and knowledge you need to choose the ideal Global Volunteer project for yourself!
Travelling to another country and living there for 6-8 weeks will be difficult, no doubt about it. You may face the unique culture shocks associated with that country and this may seem demotivating, especially as you are traveling there to help others, not struggle yourself. However, if it was not challenging, would it be worth it?
There is no easy way around that. But what you can do is be prepared beforehand. Look at the entry requirements for the country you hope to travel to, look at the safety and health issues, and other relevant advice for going there. A website I find particularly useful – as a British national at least – is https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice which provides you with some brief travel advice.
Many projects may seem perfect on the surface of things, but turn out to be very different. For this reason, it is important for you to know exactly what you are signing up for, including the logistics of the project, what support is provided and other details.
Luckily, AIESEC’s website l facilitates that part by giving you information for every single project on working hours, selection process, Visa required, accommodation/meals provided, and even the skills and background preferred for volunteers choosing that project! With this much help, it is difficult for you to go wrong when finding the right one (even if there are thousands of opportunities available across the world) provided you do your research.
As a Global Volunteer, you will have the chance to understand a new culture, see new and interesting places, and find a group of people that may just become your friends for life. These are all necessary parts of your journey, but the most rewarding aspect of being a Global Volunteer is the chance to develop yourself personally.
AIESEC – being a platform to help young people realise their leadership skills – offers its projects in the hopes of allowing you to understand the world better and use your strengths to actively make a difference where most do not even try. Through AIESEC, you have the power to change lives and transform your own mindset. And that is a very powerful reason to volunteer abroad for.
Moreover, through AIESEC’s Global Volunteer projects you are working towards the United Nation’s Agenda for sustainable development. Thorugh AIESEC’s #Youth4GlobalGoals initiative.
One of the biggest worries that people have when taking such a big step is that they may not have the support and friendship that they have relied on at home. But wherever you go, there is a large community of AIESEC members and fellow volunteers from around the world willing to help you, so you wall traveling thereke you are alone.
But even with all with all this, there is always the option of travelling with a friend (which can only make things more interesting).
So once you make a decision you are ready for your next step here.
* All photographs were taken by our volunteer Anais-Luna Ballsels in her Global Volunteer Project, Summer 2016