Thursday, September 2, 2010
Choosing the right volunteer abroad program
Travelling is a passion to some while others do it to get away from their routine. Volunteer travel is a more rewarding experience if you want to do more sitting in a hotel and seeing museums and animals. Volunteering abroad is a life changing experience for anyone who does it, whether you are in your teens, in college, taking a career break and whether you have retired. The experience you get is worth more the money you spent in your volunteer vacation. Picking the right volunteer work program is important as you plan your volunteer trip. There are many volunteer service organizations that offer many volunteer abroad work programs. There are many volunteer abroad programs to choose from for example: teaching; orphanage work; HIV/AIDS work; community developed; Health/ Medical work; teaching extreme sports, music lessons; conservations projects; and research projects. All volunteer abroad work programs are not the same. They are different and require different skills, expenses, training provided, types of placements, and quality of service. The following are tips to help you choose the right volunteer abroad work programs
Skills and abilities
Many volunteer service organizations recruit volunteers who don’t have any specific skills apart from being able to speak the language in which you are going. If you are an independent traveler, grass roots organizations also want volunteers with no skills or requirements to come and work for them. Most of the programs don’t require you to have specific skills or academic qualifications except for a few e.g. Health care and medical work whereby you are asked to provide relevant skills or background experience. One of the reason they don’t require any skills and qualifications because they attract young people who don’t yet have academic and work experience. Meaning anyone can apply for any program and be accepted. Even though you will be accepted in any program it is better choosing a program where you can apply your skills and experience. This will make you more effective in your volunteer work. With your love for kids and being good with them will help you better work in an orphanage or teaching. If you are a marketer your skills and abilities will be best suited in a marketing position. Also if you want to learn new skills choose a volunteer program where you will taught and experience new skills.
When choosing a volunteer program, find out what are the goals of the programs. Try and match your personal goals, mission statement and results with the volunteer programs. Find out about the organization that is providing the program. Try to find out the background about the program, how long it’s been working; how many people it has helped and their future goals. Write down what you want to do in your volunteer work, what you want to achieve and the long term effect of your work. When deciding the appropriate volunteer program, match your list with the work that will be involved. Also choose programs and project that have continuity, whereby when you leave the program there is somebody who will come and continue you work.
Choosing the right program will involve choosing the right destination. If you choose to do orphanage work, teaching, HIV/AIDS work etc, you will have to go to developing countries because the more developed countries address these problems in a different way. On the other hand if you want to volunteer in conservation projects like saving whales, teaching extreme sports, working in shelters then the more developed countries are a better pick. After choosing the country you should decide whether you want to be in the rural or urban areas. Rural areas are small towns while urban areas are large cities. Picking the right destination involves looking at the cultures, the languages spoken and the local customs. To avoid extreme cultural conflicts choose countries which are not too different from yours e.g. if you are Christian try and avoid Muslim nations who might find your habits offensive.
Find out how much time you have for your volunteer holiday. There are programs that range from one week to three years. Some programs are appropriate for short term volunteer work which takes up to one week to one month like orphanage work. On the other hand, there are long term projects like community development, construction projects which take between 6 months and 12 months. The volunteer programs are open throughout the year. But some programs are time specific in that they don’t operate in certain times of the year. Choosing the length of the volunteer and timing is important, for example when picking teaching programs take into considerations that the program doesn’t run in certain times of the year because the schools are closed.