Volunteering abroad in anthropology is a great way to gain field experience in a foreign country while contributing your time to a worthwhile cause. Whether you work at a national museum or in a remote village or an ancient site, there are a diverse range of opportunities for anthropology volunteer work, since the discipline is inherently broad.
Why Volunteer Abroad in Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humankind, how we have developed evolutionarily, how societies continue to manifest in different ways, and the intricacies of cultural traditions which have persisted around the world. There is no better way to gain a deep knowledge of these facets of the human condition than by travelling and experiencing the diversity of life on our planet first hand. By volunteering abroad in anthropology related placements you will learn a lot about the larger world and about yourself.
There are a ton of opportunities to volunteering abroad within the scope of anthropological studies, which are available all across the globe. Anthropology is most simply the study of peoples and cultures, so what matters most is that you go somewhere that interests you beyond the surface level. Within this realm, the world is your oyster.
Where you go might affect the type of anthropology volunteer opportunities available to you, however. For instance if you are volunteering abroad in economically and industrially advanced regions, such as North America, Europe, Japan, or Australia, then your opportunities for anthropology volunteer work might be far removed from hands-on fieldwork. Instead anthropology volunteer work may take place at museums, research institutions, or at various anthropological organizations.
In pre-industrial societies, which exist largely in rural areas of regions such as Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, the opportunity to engage in field research becomes an added benefit of anthropology volunteering abroad. Whereas life in big cities across the world more or less takes on a similar form, many small villages or tribal communities remain highly culturally distinct. Volunteering in these locations, in areas such as healthcare, education, and social research, can be a very enlightening and rewarding experience.
Anthropology Volunteering Abroad
Anthropology volunteer opportunities are somewhat ambiguous, and depend largely on the individual’s specific interests within the field. For instance if you are interested in archaeology or the study of ancient civilizations, then you might volunteer at a museum or at an excavation site. If you are interested in the cultural traditions of tribes of Sub-Saharan Africa, then volunteering in community development will allow you to work closely with villagers in that setting.
Any number of volunteer opportunities can be catered to anthropology interests, so it is largely left to the volunteer to plan their experience in a way that will be both personally rewarding and educational. Good places to begin looking for anthropology volunteer work is with anthropological, historical, or environmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, or through museums.
Anthropology volunteering abroad can last anywhere from just one week up to several months. Volunteering abroad can be somewhat expensive, but there are many ways to soften the costs, such as by fundraising and applying for scholarships, or choose organizations that will get you the most for your investment (such as meals or excursions).
Volunteering in anthropology abroad will be a fun and highly educational experience that will give you the opportunity to grow personally while positively contributing to your surroundings. Travel is one of the most vital elements of gaining anthropological understanding, and the importance of going abroad to have an experience outside your own culture cannot be emphasized enough. The further you travel, the more you realize that beneath cultural differences we are very much the same people – we’re human, after all!