Kuala Lumpur will provide any city lover with a remarkable volunteer abroad experience. From elephants to skyscrapers and temples to caves, this city stands out from the rest of Malaysia. Volunteers won’t want to pass up spicy chicken and mega-malls, local markets, and the many lush parks. With dozens of temples and tropical temperatures, this is a hidden gem for volunteering abroad. Those who chose to volunteer in Kuala Lumpur will have the opportunity to contribute to development of the city that is taking Asia by storm.
Volunteer Work in Kuala Lumpur
The opportunities for volunteering in Kuala Lumpur are diverse and make room for those from all backgrounds. Volunteer programs in Kuala Lumpur range from one week to one year commitments that are superb for all schedules. Whether you are taking a gap year or you are looking for a meaningful summer break, volunteer work in Kuala Lumpur will surely provide you with an impactful experience abroad.
Teaching. Kuala Lumpur has a large population of children living in poverty who are unable to afford a proper education. Volunteers who decide to spend their time teaching in Kuala Lumpur will assist with hands on, classroom learning activities. Activities will surround topics such as leadership, math, English language, and computer skills. If you associate yourself with characteristics such as confident, passionate, and motivated, this is a perfect volunteer opportunity for you.
Wildlife & Zoology. Have you ever dreamt of working alongside the world’s most fascinating animals? In Kuala Lumpur, volunteers have the chance to work alongside zookeepers to improve animal welfare. In addition to hands on work, volunteers will have the chance to conduct research and raise awareness on conservation. If you would call yourself an animal fanatic, you definitely should consider volunteering in Kuala Lumpur.
Media & Filmmaking. Do you have a background in film? Journalism? Communications? Have you ever thought of capturing the unique stories of changemakers? Volunteering in Kuala Lumpur in the film industry will allow volunteers to write, shoot, and edit films. Working alongside directors, producers, and editors with professional equipment, volunteers will be able to create meaningful films.
Life in Kuala Lumpur
Life in Kuala Lumpur starts with eating and shopping and ends with eating and shopping. This rapidly growing city is far from typical. With Buddhist temples, endless public parks, and and multiple modes of transportation, Kuala Lumpur offers endless forms of entertainment to keep your schedule busy while you’re volunteering abroad.
Similar to many Asian countries, the family unit is highly valued. With this, there is an expectation that a high level of respect is shown to elderly citizens. Maintaining face is of great importance in Malay society. When in communication with Malay natives, it is important to remember that criticism, insulting comments, and complaints are not well received. There are many cultural expectations in regards to greeting too; for example, it is not seen as acceptable for women to shake hands with men. To cover your bases as a volunteer in Kuala Lumpur, it would be safe for all volunteers to nod their head or bow when greeting anyone.
Volunteers with an interest in history won’t want to miss Merdeka Square. With shimmering fountains and characterized by giant waving flags, this park marks the location where the country's first prime minister punched his fist in the air and marked the independence of Malaysia.
For those who cannot imagine volunteering in Kuala Lumpur without some retail therapy, don’t fret. Known for the many countless mega-malls, you will not want to miss the Mid Valley Megamall. With over 300 stores, bowling alleys, and a lavish cinema, the Mid Valley Megamall will provide volunteers with an unforgettable shopping experience.
The climate of Kuala Lumpur is hot and humid. However, don't let that stop you from exploring the city by foot. No matter where you volunteer in Kuala Lumpur your choice is guaranteed to provide an adventure around every corner. While you can't help looking up at the skyscrapers, you won't want to miss the markets at eye-level. Known for spicy chicken, savory soups, and desserts such as crispy roti, don't miss a chance to eat like the locals.
Accommodations & Visas
Many of volunteer programs in Kuala Lumpur include housing as a part of the overall trip costs. If accommodations are not provided, a trip leader will usually assist you in the process of identifying a good fit. Housing arrangements can be in guest houses, hotels, or community buildings. No matter what the situation is, volunteers will be close to those they work with, which provides a great way to develop relationships and feel more connected with the surrounding city.
In order to volunteer in Malaysia, volunteers must hold a passport that is valid at least six months after the date of arrival. Through air travel, volunteers will automatically be given a 60 day visa. If entry is completed through land travel, a 30 day visa is given. If volunteers want to extend their visa, the process can be completed easily through a visit to the embassy when in Malaysia. Each country holds different requirements for citizens traveling to Malaysia. For more specific information surrounding your countries guidelines, visit a Malaysian Embassy in your home country (find one through GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory). Additionally, volunteers from many countries will be required to have a yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter Malaysia.
Benefits & Challenges
- Ease in Language. In Kuala Lumpur, many classify their first language as English, which is greatly beneficial for those who volunteer in Kuala Lumpur. The other languages spoken in KL are Malay and Mandarin. When volunteering with underrepresented populations, the language may be seen as a barrier, however, this won’t typically be the case.
- Petty Crime. As with many growing cities, crime is an area of concern. However, it is not violent crime that is the worry. Non-violent crimes such as pickpocketing, scamming, and theft are abundant. It is highly suggested that volunteers are constantly aware of their belongings and important travel documents.
- Affordable. Home to handicrafts, luxury items and delectable local food, there isn’t a great need for importing goods. Despite the growing popularity of the city, costs are considerably low. Volunteers will find that they can enjoy many forms of entertainment, food, and shopping at a very reasonable price.