If you have a passion for stuffing your brain with knowledge and learning and passing on treasure chests full of information to others, volunteering as a tutor abroad may be right up your alley. Not every country in the world has equal education opportunities, and by spreading your love for learning worldwide, you’ll be giving a gift far more precious than any tangible souvenir. You’ll also be doing some learning yourself; maybe not in the subject you’re tutoring in, but you’ll definitely learn about a whole different culture, language, and lifestyle. An adventure of not only the heart but of the mind too, you’re well overdue for this incredible experience abroad.
Volunteering abroad as a tutor will give you the opportunity to change, shape, and morph the educational lives of others. Many tutoring volunteer programs place volunteers directly with local students and teachers in classrooms; as a tutoring volunteer, individuals will have the chance to work with students one-on-one without the influence and distractions of other kids, which is beneficial for both students and tutors.
Tutor volunteering with kids in a private setting allows volunteers to work individually with students and really hone in on areas they are struggling in; this can mean helping a student with homework in all subjects and developing practical studying methods or being a specific tutor for math class. One of the great things about being a volunteer tutor abroad is that you’ll have the rare opportunity to really change your students and make a big difference for them on an individual level.
Now, why become a volunteer tutor abroad when you can do all this at home? Different countries each have their own education systems and structures; especially if you want to someday get involved in education, you should broaden your tutoring horizons as much as possible. Even if you merely just want to build your resume, employers will favor you over the competition because you have experience abroad. In other words, you’ve had exposure to other cultures, stepped out of your comfort zone, and did something not everyone can do.
The beauty of volunteer tutoring abroad is that tutors are needed everywhere. From the developing world, like a village in Guatemala, to Western Europe, in a booming country like England, families and schools are looking for volunteer tutors to help students with their studies and extracurricular activities.
In Barcelona, the name(s) of the game is seafood, Gaudí architecture, and futbol. Is there a better way to live life than going for a jog along the Mediterranean in the morning, take an afternoon stroll through the medieval Gothic Quarter, and end the day with a bit of dancing at a beach side club? We don’t think so. If working as a volunteer tutor all day has gone to your head, the abundant tapas bars, incredible choice of affordable yet excellent wines, and museums will fill any tutoring volunteer’s free time with once in a lifetime experiences. But, be sure to pick your tutoring volunteer program wisely, because volunteers may have to tutor in Catalán rather than in Spanish, as that is the first language of most people in Barcelona.
Just south of the border of the United States lies Mexico, home to the towering ruins of Teotihuacan and some of the tastiest food in the world. From Oaxaca to Mexico City to the highland of Chiapas, there is no shortage of places to see, food to eat, and salsa to dance to (or eat, just don’t forget the tortilla chips!). At the heart and soul of this beautiful country is the locals; if you choose to volunteer as a tutor in Mexico, you’ll learn more from the locals than you ever learned in actual school! Tutoring volunteers will never fail to be charmed when meeting a new family or stuffed full of delicious tacos, carne asada, and memorable conversation.
On the slopes of Kilimanjaro, tutoring volunteers can assist children and school staff in Tanzania. Sometimes known as “the land where giants roam,” Tanzania is a place of light, life, and color. Surrounded by incredible nature, no matter where you are, incredible birds, elephants, lions, and giraffes are only a short ride away; maybe you’ll bring cool pics of a tiger or two back to your student! Outside of host communities, volunteers will even be able to meet the red cloaked Maasai or take a look at the life of the nomadic Barabaig near Mount Harang.
Since tutors are needed all around the world (feelin’ special yet?), there are quite a few tutoring volunteer opportunities out there; however, the most popular way to volunteer as a tutor abroad is to support education programs by helping students with their homework and encouraging them to develop effective study habits.
Education tutors are needed everywhere. Tutoring volunteers often work individually with children on their homework, helping them with specific subjects and exercises. The great thing about becoming a tutoring volunteer is extreme proficiency in a certain skill isn’t needed in most cases, as volunteers tend to work with students in elementary and middle school grade levels. Tutors can focus on studying methods, which might sound complex, but things as simple as showing kids how to use flashcards and take effective notes in class make one heck of a difference.
Another popular tutoring volunteer opportunity involves conducting outdoors activities or teaching sports. Teaching the importance of teamwork, teambuilding, and working on anti-bullying projects are fantastic and fulfilling endeavors (cue “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”). In countries where soccer is a mega-sport, like in Europe and South America, most of tutoring volunteer programs are centered around coaching students the basics of how to get along, how to play nicely, and how it’s probably not a good idea to punch little Jimmy in the nose just because he didn’t catch a baseball.
Volunteering abroad as a tutor can also entail working in more general test prep programs. Much like the beloved SAT and ACT, there are countless international standardization exams that students the world over have to suffer through (er, pass). With your kind encouragement and knowledge, you can help kids knock these outta the park. One-on-one tutoring might be the secret sauce to passing exams! No certifications are needed to teach any of these and resources are readily available online for use by anyone.
Volunteer tutoring can usually last as long as each volunteer wants, from a couple of weeks to a year. It’s recommended to at least stay a month, as that is the minimum amount of time tutoring can take to really have an effect; it takes time to develop trust and a bond between a tutor and student. In most cases, no prior experience besides a college degree is required to volunteer as a tutor abroad.
Volunteering abroad in any area of need always offers its own rollercoaster of obstacles and happy times. For example, tutoring volunteers often enjoy the satisfaction of helping their students work toward their goals; there’s nothing quite like seeing the smile of an individual who now “gets something” that was near impossible before.
But, tutoring volunteers also sometimes get the feeling that their hard work isn’t having a big enough effect. This can be true when volunteering as a tutor in a developing country, where the child may just not be interested in school or is having a difficult time with a new concept. Don’t get discouraged! Instead, get creative with the teaching methods you are using, and remember that no matter what, the student is going to be forever grateful for the one-on-one attention you gave him or her.
Volunteering as a tutor abroad is an unique chance to get to know individuals on deeper level not possible through other types of volunteering. Taking several hours per day to help children individually, rather than in a classroom setting, will forever stay with your students and truly make a difference.