The Peace Corps has sent nearly 220,000 people, in 64 different countries, since it was founded in 1961; but these numbers only begin to express that remarkable difference the Peace Corps has made for people across the globe. While the Peace Corps gives volunteers the opportunity to say goodbye to life as they know it and experience what it is like to live in a foreign place, the Peace Corps is, in reality, a long-term volunteer commitment. Many people find this potential prospect to be an amazing option, but for others two years is just too long of a commitment.
The good news is: there are countless possibilities when it comes to committing your skills, good intentions, and time to volunteering abroad. Sure, you want to be abroad for more than a week or two, but that doesn’t mean you are ready to venture into the unknown for multiple years.
The volunteer organizations listed below offer placement opportunities that range from one month to a year, allowing you to immerse yourself in a particular community and bring about change without being gone longer than you’re ready for.
Remember: even the smallest efforts make a big difference, so start your search today!
If you aren’t up for a two year commitment to a classroom, but are interested (and equipped) to work for a shorter amount of time as a volunteer English teacher abroad, then you’re in luck. Here’s just a sampling of the amazing opportunities that can serve as alternatives to the Peace Corps:
Volunteer to be a teacher’s assistance in Koforidua, Ghana outside the city of Accra. Although English is an official language in Ghana, there are many children who struggle to speak it fluidly because of the more dominant use of pidgin at home. By supporting the teachers in their pronunciation and helping with other subjects, you can also have a very positive influence on students in the rural communities. This program is also open for different durations, so you have the freedom to choose what length of time is best for you.
Since English is considered such an integral part of education in developing countries nowadays, having a volunteer that is willing to assist teachers and work to improve children’s education is invaluable. With the opportunity to work with teachers and students in Bangladesh, you can benefit the people within the communities. This program offers duration times from 1 week to 12 months. Accommodations will involve living at the school that you teach at in the rural areas outside of Dhaka.
While finding a job as an english teacher abroad or getting TEFL certified are both amazing opportunities, they both require a large sum of money and time. By volunteering with projects abroad and teaching children in Ecuador conversational english, you can get teaching and classroom experience without having to get certified. This program allows you to choose the duration of your trip, and allows you to interact with young children as you teach them how to improve on their english speaking skills.
Healthcare volunteer opportunities are some of the most robust and developed options actively seeking international volunteers. For some programs, previous medical skills are not required. So if you have a heart of gold and hands willing to help, search no further for international volunteer opportunities in health, health education, or nursing.
Volunteer in small local clinics in the the rural areas of Guatemala to gain more experience in the medical field. Since some medical background is required for this particular program, it is a great way to get experience while immersing yourself in a place where public health is very different. Not to mention you will get to enjoy the beauty that is Guatemala, as you help improve the lives of the Guatemalan people.
There are two program options through Global Volunteer Network to volunteer outside of Cusco, Peru. If you don’t have a background in medicine or healthcare, there are still opportunities for you to gain experience working in a clinic by helping in any way you can. If you are experienced, you can shadow doctors and work in a more hands on way at the local clinics. This is a great volunteer opportunity for those who are passionate about the health of people worldwide, and it is great because you can volunteer no matter what experience you have!
Are you passionate about public health and hygiene? You can volunteer to promote health and improve the standard of living outside of India. While some medical experience is sought after, it is not mandatory, making this a viable option for anyone who is interested in health promotion. Meet other volunteers while living in India, as you all work together to improve the health of local people.
There’s a reason this proverb has lived on for centuries: “A hand that's dirty with honest labor is fit to shake with any neighbor.” Digging deep into conservation volunteer projects abroad or other construction work are oft-chosen alternatives to the Peace Corps.
ELI provides the option to volunteer on a co-op in the country of Benin, in West Africa. Begin harvesting and cultivating crops in the African Country. For example, you could volunteer in a Pineapple Cooperative and learn how to harvest the pineapples, as well as how to prepare and package the juice that comes from it. Get a glimpse into how food is harvested, and learn practices from other cultures that you can implement into your own life!
Take part in environmental research and sustainable organic farming in the a Maya community in the Yucatan. Learn about ancient Mayan farming techniques while also taking part in rainforest management and recovery. This programs has optional durations, leaving the decision up to you! Work on maintaining gardens, and sowing seeds, all the way to improving soils, and composting!
Work in the Rift Valley on 35,000 acre reserve to support conservation and environmental work in Kenya. Duration lasts from one week to six months. The volunteer work mainly consists of organic farming and other methods of agriculture, but also gives you close exposure to the wildlife that exists in Kenya. Work to preserve, and conserve the biodiversity that exists in the Rift Valley. Habitat restoration is also a big aspect of this volunteer opportunity!
Does the thought of collective action make your heart flutter? Do you sometimes catch yourself daydreaming about having a positive impact on a child from another country? We reckon you’re a good fit for volunteering in a community center abroad.
Volunteer in the vulnerable communities in Argentina, alongside local staff, to improve the livelihood of those who lack a standard necessities. Help develop new initiatives to change the lack of job opportunities that exist in Argentina, and help decipher what should be done to make life better in these communities. Make a difference while engaging with the people of Argentina for the duration of your choice!
Whether you are interested in volunteering for one month, or one year, Volunteers for Peace gives you the opportunity to work on Community Development in Thailand! With 35 different projects all over Thailand, you can become an international volunteer! The focuses for this project involve teaching the community about environmental issues, creating a stronger music, and art scene, and even working with the elderly.
Moldova is an Eastern European country where Love Volunteers gives you the opportunity to work on Community Development! Support the local community of Causeni by working with the local youth and teach them about cultural diversity, human rights, healthy lifestyles and community involvement! This is a great way to immerse yourself in a culture that is not traveled to often, all while making a positive impact on their lives, too.
*Bonus* Professional Development
Like a short-term Peace Corps for skilled professionals, MovingWorlds helps you find the best place to volunteer your skills, on your own or through corporate-sponsored programs. As founders of the “Experteering” movement, MovingWorlds not only matches you to a skills-based project overseas that never charges you to volunteer, but it also guides you through an effective planning process and provides you training to make a real impact. From architecture to design to engineering to marketing to strategy, there is a wide range of opportunities for almost any skills set and any length of time.
Opportunities like these exist around the globe, with countless organizations. There are so many different ways to offer support to other countries that are in need, and it can be done in the amount of time that best suits you! By using GoAbroad.com as your resource, you can find a program that will be perfect for you. Now go out and volunteer!