Volunteer Capital Centre (VCC)

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Volunteer/ Intern abroad Problems and solutions

There are problems or challenges that we face in our everyday life. Some problems can be solved by being careful and prudent. While some can’t be avoided but we still have to deal with them either way. Volunteering is one of the best gifts you can give to someone and at the same time give yourself. There are several advantages and benefits of volunteering whether at home or abroad. Volunteering abroad has many exciting opportunities but it comes challenges as well. We can’t avoid all the problems that come with volunteering abroad but through these methods we can solve some of them. These solutions will help you navigate through your volunteer/ intern and travel program without too many hitches.

Many volunteer abroad programs require that the volunteer to speak English, French and Spanish fluently. The languages are international and are spoken in almost all parts of the world. In Africa, the two most common languages are English and French. While in the Americas they speak English and Spanish. Although the languages are common everywhere, in every place the local people speak their own version of the language. Also the locals add a few words from their native tongue which makes it difficult to understand each other. You could speak the language fluently but the locals might not understand you well because of your accent. The accents make it difficult for people from different places to understand each other. Solving this is by both of you talking slowly and by giving the other person time to speak. If the need arises you can both write down what you are trying to say.

When working in an organization there are times when we get into some conflicts with the fellow workmates. The paid staff could be giving you a hard time while you are working with them. In some instances the person offending you is doing it unconsciously and the problems are solved by politely informing the person. The person will listen to you and apologize. On the other hand, the problem is not easily solved, after talking to the person offending you he does not change. In such cases go to your supervisor or volunteer coordinator to help solve the issue. The supervisor should be able to resolve the issue between the two of you. In the worst case you could be reassigned to another department.

Some volunteer coordinators and program supervisor assign too much work to the volunteer. Improperly trained supervisors give out too much responsibility and confuse volunteers with the paid staff. Also they could give you too much work and short deadlines. Depending on the work that you had agreed to do for the organizations, you should tell your coordinator about your work and you are there helping. In some organizations they don’t march your skills and ability well. They may give work that you will not enjoy. When you start volunteering for them and you find your skills could be better placed somewhere else, inform the supervisor of your interests and desires. In the end you could apply yourself more and be more effective in your volunteer work.

When you are in your volunteer abroad program, you could be placed to work with people who are in dire needs. The people you might be assigned to help are normally desperate. As a foreigner, the local people assume you have money and might want to take advantage of you. For any small piece of advice the locals could charge you or try to extort you. When you try to buy something the, the local sellers will try to take advantage of you by charging exorbitantly. For this, try to get as much information before you buy something. Or if you have local friends ask them to buy for you things.

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