So maybe you’ve dipped your toe in or even waded around a bit in the pool of volunteering abroad and you’ve found a new passion. Now you’re ready to go off the deep end (at least, that’s what your parents are probably thinking). You’ve proven that you can swim, so go ahead and get fully immersed, disconnect from the life-back-home ring, and commit your time to social good. Maybe you need summer break plans or you are really sick of winter and you’ve decided to throw caution into the frosty winter wind and volunteer abroad for 3-6 months.
Why Volunteer Abroad for 3-6 months?
Most importantly, a period of 3-6 months of volunteering will allow you the time required to build relationships. Building relationships with communities, businesses, orphanages, host families, etc. doesn’t happen overnight. Over the course of 3-6 months, you will be able to see and feel the difference your efforts are making as a volunteer abroad.
Another great reason volunteering for 3-6 months is such an ideal time frame is because you will have time to see a project through. You’ll make it past the input period (i.e. learning about your site, the beneficiaries, the organizational culture, etc.) and still have enough time in the output period (i.e. taking initiative, leading programs, implementing change).
Choosing a location to plant yourself for 3-6 months is not a decision to be made willy-nilly. Honing in on one spot can be hard, so if you need some ideas to get started, check out some of these most popular locations for 3-6 month volunteer programs:
South Africa. South Africa is one of the most popular destinations for volunteers around the world. With the end of apartheid, the country is doing its best to progress, creating ample opportunities for volunteering. As a volunteer in South Africa, you will see a country amidst great change and transition, an exciting time to both be a part of and experience. There are mountains to hike, beaches with good surf, close encounters with nature in its purest form, traditions you can only get from rural villages, and vibrant cities to explore in your free time, too. If you are looking for a perfect 3-6 month combo of volunteering, learning, and adventure, you’re looking in the right place!
Philippines. Whether you’re looking for a volunteer trip laced with adventures or relaxation, the Philippines has it all. Volunteering in the Philippines not only gives you the chance to explore this world of tempting tropics and teeming cities, it also offers the opportunity to expand your world perspective and gain a deeper understanding of poverty. The limited social development along with common economic hardships among the nation's people provides 3-6 month long volunteers with a vast array of opportunities for volunteer work in the Philippines from placements in rural health clinics to orphanages to construction sites.
Brazil. There’s much more to Brazil than just fiestas and futbol. Brazil’s size entails access to vast and diverse landscape containing the Amazon Rainforest, waterfalls, beaches, and a semi-desert. Although Brazil is a lively tropical paradise, it’s also a developing country with an enormous wealth gap and a need for committed volunteers. Individuals who volunteer in Brazil for 3-6 months will help locals to achieve social, economic, and environmental change and development.
There is a lot you can accomplish while volunteering abroad for 3-6 months. Your options are seemingly limitless. To help narrow it down, check out some of the best programs that fit within the 3-6 month time frame:
Teaching. Volunteer teaching abroad is accessible to many people—whether they have a degree in education or not. Volunteering in as a teacher or teaching assistant for a 3-6 month term is an excellent way to test if a career in teaching is something you could see yourself spending more than a semester doing. Volunteer teaching abroad gives individuals specific classroom experience even before a practicum or student teaching placement is possible, and adds a competitive edge to any resume.
Media. Becoming a media volunteer abroad is your opportunity to tackle global concerns head on. The passion you have for journalism, photography, and videography will grow with every project you work on and contribute to real change. Enhance your portfolio while tackling burdensome social issues in other parts of the world through media volunteer work. Most importantly, tell stories and recreate settings with every picture you take, video you record, or article you write to share real-life experiences from real-people in foreign countries.
Community Development. The concept of community development is broad. Basically, any group of people taking collective action to achieve a common goal or solve a universal problem is seen as community development—and it is one of the best ways to accomplish real change through volunteer work abroad. The best community development projects benefit entire cities, countries, and regions, and often the overall environment, but the main focus of volunteering in community development is to raise the standard of living for those experiencing unique struggles or exceptional need in some way.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop
See the big picture. Volunteering for 3-6 months abroad gives you the time to complete a big project from start to finish. This allows you to zoom out and see and appreciate the long-term impact all your hard work will have. This includes all those deep and meaningful relationships you made too.
Get your ducks in a row. Putting your life “on pause” for 3-6 months can be a logistical nightmare. You will probably have to sort out your job or school situation or sublet or give up your apartment, for example. But don’t worry—all this tedious work will be well worth it.
Take the time to explore. You’ve got some wiggle room for additional travel when you volunteer abroad for 3-6 months. When you need to step back from a project and get some fresh insight, do a little sightseeing, explore neighboring areas, and come back to the task with newfound inspiration.
No matter how you slice it, 3-6 months is pretty much the perfect amount of time to volunteer abroad. You will have enough time to get truly adjusted to your environment, make meaningful relationships, and do life-changing work!