Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Volunteering abroad and Universities
Many students want to volunteer or intern and travel abroad. They would like to take up their sense of adventure and visit different parts of the world. The main problem is that most students are either in college, university, high school or are about to join the said institutions. Being in the higher learning institutions means they don’t have much time left to leave the country. Also during their holidays they don’t have the money to travel the world. Most students opt to take a gap year so that they have time to travel and see the world. Unfortunately not everyone has that luxury to take a year off school for adventure seeking. They are normally limited by time and if they are to take a year off this would have negative effects on their academic studies.
There are many higher learning institutions that encourage their students to travel abroad. The institutions know that learning is not only done on campus grounds and more realistic life skills are gotten outside class rooms and lecture theatres. They have setup their own abroad programs where their students have the opportunities to study with their partner universities for a semester or two. They have partnered with various institutions in different parts of the world that have the same course work with theirs to allow students to participate in study abroad programs. Although, there are some institutions that don’t have any study abroad programs and in this case students are allowed to look for abroad opportunities by themselves. One way students do this is by being a volunteer abroad and they could earn an academic credit for it. As such they can do their volunteer work, travel and continue with their education.
As stated earlier not all schools have a study abroad, or an elective abroad program and the students who are interested in doing this should contact their faculty heads to know how to go about it. If the faculty advisers are agreeable, they would want to know which organization the student is planning to volunteer with. The faculty would require to know the history, mission and objectives of the organization. More importantly they would need to know about the program the student is involving themselves in. The program should be relevant to the course requirements and it should be a service learning project that will help achieve academic and career goals. The students should also emphasize the benefits of studying abroad to ensure they are allowed to do so. When the faculty advisor agrees the student should work with him/ her to come up with learning objectives, and a course proposal; how to keep contact with the student throughout the project in order to guide and evaluate progress; finally, how to award the grade and credit for the project.
Medical students benefit tremendously from volunteer medical programs. Although there is much to be studied in books, there are some diseases that do not occur in that particular area and as such the students are better placed in learning abroad. For example medical students in temperate areas, will learn a lot if they go and volunteer in tropical areas as they will get first had experience in tropical diseases. Lastly, research students are also likely to benefit from volunteer abroad programs. As this will give them the opportunity to collect data first hand and see the results of their research. They should also confer with their faculty advisors to make sure everything is above board. Care should be taken when engaging organizations to organize volunteer work, interning abroad and research as some of them are not legitimate.