Make the world a better place: Volunteer programs

by Tyson on Thursday, December 06, 2012

Volunteer programs

The benefits of volunteering abroad

Many people often express the desire to make the world a better place. It’s a pretty broad goal, and thinking of specific ways to begin achieving it can immediately turn into an overwhelming task. Looking at volunteer opportunities is an excellent place to start, as these provide a chance to make a difference in different communities, where you can personally get involved in the causes you feel most passionate about. Volunteering abroad often requires more sacrifices, but the rewards are also greater.  If you volunteer in Mexico for example, you’ll come home with valuable Spanish skills. don Quijote offers the chance to gain international work experience in a broad range of volunteer opportunities in Mexico, from ecological conservation, to working with children and indigenous communities, to providing medical care.

Many of the sacrifices one makes when volunteering in a foreign country, are paradoxically valuable benefits, such as: having to leave your home and likely give up many daily comforts you’re used to (you get to travel), having to speak a different language (you get to learn a language) and having to adapt to a new culture, climate, cooking style and way of life (you learn about a new culture and gain adaptability skills). The following is a list of what you get out of selflessly offering your time and services abroad.

Learn a different language

It’s no secret that full immersion in a foreign language is the most effective way to learn how to speak it. Speaking the language in meaningful situations also reinforces acquisition. If you associate vocabulary with personal interaction you’ve made with others, perhaps offering services that have made a positive difference in people’s lives, then that language will leave an indelible impression in your memory. The altruistic emotions you feel while using language in volunteer contexts will allow you to develop an intimate relationship with it that will also help maximize acquisition and your commitment to learning it.   

Get to travel

As a volunteer, you will gain valuable insight into local culture that tourists don’t usually get a chance to experience. The only way to understand and come to deeply appreciate a different culture is by integrating yourself into that culture’s way of life. Volunteers often report on returning home that they never realized how limited their view of the world was before their mind opening, life changing volunteer experience. It’s no exaggeration to say that your newly acquired intercultural awareness will contribute in a small way to the international understanding that is essential to maintaining stable relationships between entire countries.

Build a handsome resume

Employers love to see candidates that embrace a challenge and have proven their ability to adapt to new situations. Professional experience speaking a foreign language of course always makes you an appealing candidate for a wide variety of positions. Even if the language you acquired on your volunteer program doesn’t relate to the job you’re applying for, cross-cultural communication skills and awareness are essential aspects of many job profiles. You may also get the unique opportunity to gain experience in a field that may be difficult, if not impossible to access in a paid position without previous experience. You may even work in a field you never considered before, and you may find that you like it and would like to pursue it as a career.

Have fun, feel good about yourself and make new friends

Many volunteers explain that the experience made them more compassionate, and that they are eager to find more opportunities to enjoy the rewarding feeling of participating in an altruist effort. Furthermore, you will work with others that have similar goals of making a difference in certain communities and learning the language. Getting to know program participants and other volunteers, and exchanging ideas on project work will likely give you hope and inspiration. You may learn about how specific types of projects are carried out in different parts of the world. These people may become lifelong friends or valuable international contacts. One of the greatest benefits from volunteering is the feeling that you’ve made a difference in the world, getting that sense that you’ve achieved something.

Reverse the effects of aging

Okay, this one seems too good to be true, but a number of recent studies show that volunteering provides surprising health benefits. The Corporation for National and Community Service reports that recent research confirms that volunteers have greater functional ability and lower mortality rates. The Wisconsin longitudinal study confirms that volunteering positively influences psychological well-being and self-reported health. Volunteering fights depression, builds self confidence, keeps you physically healthy.


Keywords: volunteering,volunteer program,volunteering abroad,make the world a better place,volunteer experience

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