After summer volunteering abroad, you’ll expect to have a few good stories to tell -- and you will -- but there are other benefits of volunteering that will last way longer than the time it takes you to get back home.
There was a time when volunteering meant sparing an hour here and a morning there, usually for important occasions or holidays. But in 2017, volunteering has become about so much more than “doing your part.” We know that now, more than ever, we need to create inclusive, connected societies that help and can rely on one another in a manner of ways. Donating our skills, time, and attention to worthwhile social change is just one of the ways we can promote inclusivity in our world today.
Combining volunteering abroad for good causes with your summer break is an excellent way to accomplish cross cultural exchange and build lasting connections across the globe.
If you’re looking for an adventurous way to spend your summer, you’ll find that volunteering abroad for a cause that is special to you will not only help those around you, it will produce three very special benefits that you’ll love for years to come:
1. You’ll Make a Real, Lasting Impact.
There used to be a view that organisations called up volunteers when they needed people to hand out leaflets and get coffee, and then they’d send them home after a few hours. Luckily, volunteering options have expanded to encompass complete learning immersion programmes, where the goal is no longer finding people to do the work, but helping volunteers contribute and grow along the way too.
Some of my most enjoyable experiences have been as an empowered volunteer, when I know the organisation is appreciating the work volunteers are putting in and using it to support their overall efforts. Museums, social change groups, and community organizations, for example, often rely on more on volunteers than paid workers to meet their goals and fulfill their mission.
Summer volunteer programs around the world are moving in the direction of creating special projects for volunteers to work on throughout their trip. Therefore, volunteers are able to kick off a new project when they arrive, and then see it wrap up and move on to its next strategic phase by the time they leave. This means volunteers are no longer being bused in as free labour; they become an important part of the team, which leads to even more benefits of volunteering. Knowing you’ve played a key part in the development work from start to finish is one of the best benefits of volunteering and reasons to donate your time to causes abroad.
2. You’ll Get to See Some of the World's Most Famous Sites.
Who wants to spend a day being mentored by a human rights activist and then go and see the Taj Mahal at sunset? I definitely do, and you can if choose a summer volunteer program in India.
Summer volunteering is like the world’s greatest 2-for-1 special, because you’ll contribute to positive social change and, if you go to the right destination, you also get a historic and cultural experience that is postcard worthy.
Summer volunteer programs often include cultural experiences and tours right in pre-planned itineraries, so you won’t even have to squeeze tours in before or after your volunteer work; your picture-perfect experiences will be planned for you.
3. You’ll Grow in Ways You Never Expected
Working alongside people who feel as strongly as you do about supporting a particular cause creates a path for developing strong relationships with others. Summer volunteer programs aren’t just beneficial for those who are looking to create new friendships either. Going abroad to become summer volunteer means you’ll connect to an action network of like-minded changemakers from around the world. So, when you get back home, you’ll have a new set of friends, colleagues, and ideas to continue contributing toward your special cause.
Developing countries, like India, face many issues every day. You might choose a summer volunteer program abroad because you want to work on a cause you believe in, and you may find a new cause to inspire your future volunteer work, or even your career.
At the end of the day, summer volunteering will not only help the community you serve -- it will help you too. Volunteering abroad can even enhance your health and happiness. People have consistently shown a significant boost in happiness after doing kind deeds for others. The feelings are biologically apparent; giving to charity activates brain regions associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust.
If you participate in summer volunteer programs, you’ll get way more than a season’s worth of value. You’ll continue reaping the benefits of volunteering, and have endless inspiration, for years to come.
What are you waiting for? Find summer volunteer programs now!
This article was contributed by if i could... internship programme, an organization dedicated to providing personalized internship placements in Cape Town, South Africa and New Delhi, India.