How can I volunteer Overseas? Finding a volunteering program that suits you is inevitably a daunting task. Though you are excited, you want to be sure that you choose a program that suits your needs and expectations. You can search for programs based on the field of work, length of stay, and specific locations.
Steps to Volunteer Overseas
How can I volunteer Overseas? For many, volunteering overseas is a dream fulfilled. Have you ever considered doing something meaningful on your next vacation? Instead of heading to the shore this summer, what about volunteering at a national beach park in Costa Rica?
People have a natural desire to want to support one another; it is how we have evolved. Many people choose to volunteer in their local community, while others seek a more global experience and want to volunteer overseas and have no idea where to begin their search. A Broader View Volunteers is a trusted nonprofit charity organization with over a decade of experience organizing authentic, memorable international volunteer experiences.
STEP 1: Find a suitable volunteer program
Decide what type of experience suits you best. Do you prefer to travel solo or are you more comfortable with a group? Decide if you would rather live with a local family or prefer a project where on-site accommodation are provided. Finding a volunteer program best for you does not have to be a daunting task. Be honest in your approach; would living in the jungle in the middle of summer be a nightmare for you – then perhaps consider a location south of the Equator.
Ask relevant questions: where will I be living, who will help me if I get into trouble or sick in the program, where is my money being spent? What happens if I want to leave early? You can search for programs based on the field of work, length of stay, or specific locations. Our ABV staff can help direct you in your search. Call us, email or chat online with us.
Here are some things to consider when deciding on a program.
• Do you have a dream location, or bucket list destination?
• What are your career aspirations? Our volunteer abroad programs can be a great way to enhance your resume, and or help you to gain unfettered access in the field of your choice.
• Read reviews and do some research. Find testimonials, talk to alumni, speak to your family, friends, school advisors.
• Determine how long you can be away for? Do you have a job, or are you attending school.
• Consider if a second language is necessary. You do not want to show up and not be able to understand your hosts!
• Research the cost of airfare. You may find traveling to a certain location is a lot cheaper one month than another. Some volunteer programs are closed during school holidays – make sure the program you are interested in is actually open the dates you want to travel.
STEP 2: Figure out your finances for the Volunteer Trip
Volunteering abroad does not need to cost an arm and a leg. However, expenses can add up quickly. International airfare, medical insurance coverage, visa costs, vaccinations are unavoidable expenses. You also need spending money to book tours or take in a local show or dinner out on the town. When you choose to travel with a nonprofit organization like ours there are some networks available to you. Our orientation material will provide discounts for airfare, travel insurance and also fundraising assistance.
Potential ways to fund your volunteering trips:
• Your family & friend network: For some this may be a difficult sell. Approach your family with a sound plan including budget needs, timelines and ways to repay their kindness in helping you with trip. Remind your donors their charitable contributions are tax deductible.
• Scholarships. Believe it or not, scholarships for volunteering abroad do exist! Complete frequent and numerous applications for any applicable scholarships, fellowships, or grants that will send you to volunteer abroad
• Crowdfunding sites. Crowdfunding websites like ABV Fundraising are great for receiving funding from your friends and family members. Be sure to go on about how important and formative your humanitarian trips will be.
• You Better Work! Many of us waste money on things we don’t really need. Getting a part-time job and saving up your money can quickly leave you with a lot of funds, especially if you can limit non-essential spending
STEP 3: Preparation for applying & getting ready to travel
When you decide on the right program, take some steps before you apply. Ask personal acquaintances or your school advisor for a reference. Remember that many people will be applying, so you need to be professional, prompt and and distinguish yourself.
• Tailor your resume. What skills would be most useful for this trip?
• Provide clear, detailed answers on your questionnaire. Make all your answers relevant. Proofread any paperwork and be ready to elaborate if you are asked questions during the application process. Yes and no replies are not going to cut it, even if that’s the truth. Answer all the questions thoroughly. Your answers will be used to determine if the program you applied to is suitable for you.
• Travel Documents. Make sure that your passport and visa documents are in order. These documents may take a long time to be approved (sometimes several months) and may necessitate trips to certain offices or embassies to complete. Be sure to give them plenty of time!
• Health Checks. Certain volunteer abroad programs require you to undergo health checkups before your travel. If volunteer trips visit countries that are notorious for certain diseases or illnesses that Westerners are vulnerable to, you may also have to receive shots and immunizations before your trip.
• Packing the right things. Check the season when you will be traveling. Remember it is not always the same season as you are having at home. Things to remember: its not always hot in Africa, and seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are opposite to us. With that said… remember to pack as light as you can!
• Language barriers. Native English speakers have the privilege of expecting that many people will speak their language abroad. However, this is not true for many impoverished and rural areas, so be sure to brush up on your basic phrases and words in the native language of your destination!
STEP 4: Travel with an open mind
Although it’s good to be excited, remember to manage your expectations appropriately. Our programs are individually based, meaning you may be the only volunteer at any given time during your project. Since most receiving partners are often unstructured with fluid or altogether non-existent schedules, be ready to go with the flow. To be successful you must be a pro-active, self-starter who can jump into any situation. Speak up, ask questions and do what you can to help
It is important to remember that the pace of life is very slow compared to your life at home. Remember, you are in different country now, living in communities that have cultural practices, life experiences, needs, infrastructures (lack of) and a worldview that can be very different to the ones you are used to.
STEP 5: Coming home
Returning home can be a culture shock, especially if you’ve spent several months of your gap year or summer doing humanitarian trips in countries that are vastly different to your own. It’s good to prepare for your inevitable return home in order to smooth this transition. Unfortunately, volunteer trips have to end sometime!
• Mentally prepare. Prepare yourself for what to expect when you return home. Being thrust back into a modern Western country after spending extended periods of time volunteering abroad in less-developed countries can be striking and confusing. Reverse culture shock does exist!
• Update your resume. Updating your resume to include your volunteer trips and humanitarian trips can be highly beneficial and shows more about you as a person.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” – Mark Twain