Discover the Unfamiliar with These 12 Unique Volunteer Opportunities

by Julia Zaremba

Is the idea of volunteering not exotic enough for you? Well, you’re in for a surprise: it can get a lot more exciting than handing out tepid soup at a homeless shelter or labeling new books at libraries.

Just take the experience abroad.

Better yet, take it really abroad.
 

Let’s get weird. If you want something that truly sets you apart from the crowd and gives you a solid +1 on your future job applications, consider volunteering abroad at one of these off-the-beaten-path places. These twelve unique volunteer opportunities, which also happen to be fabulous international destinations, are starting to stir quite a spark on GoAbroad.com. We recommend hopping onto the next plane possible to reap the benefits of new experiences in new places before hordes of copycats follow. 

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Ocho Rios, Jamaica

1. Jamaica

With Jamaica’s central location in the Caribbean Sea, its tropical weather, and the strong global presence of its culture, it is no surprise that this island nation is rated as the number one unique volunteer destination. This is the birthplace of reggae and boasts cuisine as diverse as the country itself. Throw in the Blue Mountains, the blue moons, a history of voodoo, the first railroad outside of Britain, and a small snake population, and you’re set. You’ll go bananas just thinking about all the ways you can volunteer abroad in Jamaica!

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

2. Morocco

Think of saffron, turmeric, cumin, coriander and mint… that’s only a small taste of the bold flavors that Morocco has to offer! This North African country has volunteer opportunities for all types of travelers. Morocco is a country that flashes with vibrant towns and tribal communities, striking mountain ranges and ancient traditions. Its African culture is blended with strong Mediterranean and Moorish influences, noticeable in Morocco’s variety of architecture and attractions. You’re sure to be in good company with tree-climbing goats, so start looking at how you can participate in a volunteer program in Morocco!

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

3. Fiji

Made up of 333 islands, Fiji is the opposite of bad luck. With a volunteer program on this island, you’ll have the chance to experience rich cultures in picturesque settings. From the Hindu temples to the traditional villages and abundance of aquatic life, Fiji offers an astonishing array of sights and sounds. And how cool is it to live on an island in the middle of the International Date Line? I mean, your body can be in two days at the same time- probably very useful, considering the amount of attractions there are for after volunteering-hours. If you’re ready to learn what the deal behind “kicking the orange” is, check out all the volunteer programs available in Fiji!

Particularly Awesome Programs

Temples in Nepal

Temples in Nepal

4. Nepal

Experience life in the Himalayas with a volunteer program in Nepal! Whether you’re interested in trekking the outdoors or glimpsing the bustling capital city of Kathmandu, a volunteer program will gift you with a truly unforgettable experience. As you soak up the noise, character and constant energy of Nepal, you’ll also be making a meaningful global impact. In your downtime, make friends with Kumari, the only living goddess in the world. Go find out why Nepal is the only country in the world with a non-rectangular flag by browsing all the Nepal volunteer programs.

Particularly Awesome Programs

5. Israel

Don’t let the relatively small size of Israel fool you. It has the highest concentration of hi-tech companies outside of the Silicon Valley. The geography and culture of Israel are rich in diversity all the way from the Negev desert in the south to the Israeli Coastal Plain on the shores of the Mediterranean (home to seventy percent of the nation’s population). Don’t forget the kosher McDonald’s. As you travel throughout Israel on a volunteer program, you’ll learn this and much more, in addition to making friendships that will last a lifetime. Go convert your dollars to shekels (they have Braille on them!) and jump start your own adventure with a volunteer program in Israel.

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

6. Chile

Stretching down the western coast of South America, Chile is the longest North-South country, encompassing beaches, rivers, islands and even the driest desert in the world (not to mention the southernmost city on the planet). The country’s multi-ethnic society, including people of European and Amerindian ancestry, also contributes to Chile’s dynamic opportunities as a volunteer. Go befriend penguins and explore Pablo Neruda’s poetic castle in Valparaiso after you sign up for a volunteering program in Chile.

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

Cityscape of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Cityscape of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

7. Malaysia

With inhabitants that date back to 1500 B.C., Malaysia is dominated by a forest environment and a mountain range that runs the length of the peninsula. It is a multicultural and multilingual society, with influences from Chinese, Indian, Persian, Arabic, and British cultures. The variety of landscapes and animal population make Malaysia an ideal destination for conservation and wildlife volunteer programs... and the foodie-oriented, laidback culture doesn’t hurt. Grab a durian for inspiration and start making your own mark with all the volunteer options available in Malaysia, lah!

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

8. Three Cheers for the Caribbean

There’s more than 700 islands that form “The Caribbean”, each with their unique cultural identity, so even if you (for some ja-makin’-me-crazy reason) don’t wanna go to Jamaica, don’t say that there’s no place for you here. Perpetual sunshine, crystal waters, palm trees, pirates, mofongo, plátano, sancocho, rain forests, coral reefs, UNESCO plazas, really long streets, seafood galore, bachata, merengue, reggaeton- ay mamí! As a volunteer abroad in the Caribbean, you will be able to soak up the tropical settings and come to better understand the customs that characterize each region. From the historic Creole languages to the artistic expressions in Caribbean music and dance, there is something to be gleaned from every detail. Brush up on your Spanish, English, Dutch, Haitian Creole or Papiamento and go pick the perfect Caribbean volunteer program for you.

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

9. Ghana

Ranked as the safest African country by the Global Peace Index, this country on the West Coast of Africa is peppered with contrast. Discover the variety of dialects and flavours while riding in the back of a Tro Tro and admiring the exotic landscape. Ghana is recognized as a rapidly modernizing country and boasts one of the most thriving democracies on the African continent. As a volunteer, make a difference in numerous fields including health programs, social work and teaching program. Splash around on the Gold Coast and learn how to balance almost anything on your head when you embark on an adventure to Ghana with the perfect program!

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

Street in Quebec, Canada

Quebec, Canada

10. Canada

Did you know that Canada is the world’s second-largest country? It’s no surprise, then, at how diverse the terrain and wildlife is in Canada. It may share a border with the United States, but it has its own take on Thanksgiving and it offers a lot more than just beavers, tree-huggers, and maple leaves. As a bilingual nation with both English and French as official languages, there’s a resulting diversity of nationalities and cultures. From British Columbia to Quebec, volunteer opportunities are spread all throughout the country. There’s also Ogopogo, Canada’s own version of the Loch Ness Monster. Sounds like it’s time to start discovering all of the volunteer options in Canada, eh?

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

11. Tanzania

Tanzania is a vibrant and enthralling East African country, where the exotic landscapes are juxtaposed by historical sites (cue: Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara). It is one of the oldest inhabited regions on Earth and characterized by a multi-ethnic society (over 100 ethnic groups call Tanzania home!). When not saving big felines or building mud houses, hike to the tip of Mount Kilimanjaro or lower yourself into Ngrongoro, the world’s largest volcanic crater. Learn how to tell new types of hours when figuring out timetables and see which Tanzania program is the one for you.

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

12. Palestine

Meshed between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, Palestine is a country that dates back to ancient agricultural communities and human civilization. It shares many similarities to its neighboring countries of Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, yet its distinctive customs are also reflected in the famous works of art and literature of the country. Jerusalem or Jericho? Musakhan or fattoush? Or maybe even some kufta? There are infinite things to learn, stereotypes to break, and meaningful community service programs to get involved in, so go forth and learn the importance of olive trees while volunteering in Palestine.

Particularly Awesome Programs: 

Whew! Is your adrenaline running in new hemispheres yet just thinking about volunteering?

You already know about the warm, fuzzy feelings that helping others provides, the life-time memories you will make and share with your grandchildren fifty years from now, and the importance of living in a global community. Now, it’s time to add an XL cultural blanket to the experience and sprinkle a couple of adventures into the mix.

(...if you’re still hungry for more, here’s even more locations and programs to explore!)