While studying abroad is an incredible way to see the world, it is just one way to do so. After studying in another country, many students find themselves itching to go abroad again. Some choose to study abroad for another semester, while others choose a new path. Volunteering abroad is a great way experience the world, gain insight and also make a significant change in a community. There are volunteering opportunities to fit any interest you may have. You can do anything — work with children, save wildlife or help improve health care environments in impoverished countries.
There are a plethora of volunteer abroad opportunities so finding one is not difficult. However, there are some logistics that you may want to take into consideration before signing on to any one volunteer abroad organization. Simply by google-ing “volunteer abroad” you will be bombarded with hundreds of different organizations that help place volunteers abroad. While many of these are reputable, it is important to do your research before, read testimonials of past participants and find out what kind of support you will get from the organization while abroad. Two large and trustworthy organizations are Global Crossroad (www.globalcrossroad.com) and Cross Cultural Solutions (www.crossculturalsolutions.org). These organizations have volunteer opportunities throughout the world, that can suite a variety of interests. However, they do come with a price.
When researching volunteering opportunities, you may notice that some of them are rather expensive. Prices vary on the organization, duration and location. For example, Global Crossroad requires a $350 application fee and then charges an additional weekly fee once you have arrived. (To volunteer in India Week 1 is $557, Week 2 is $648, Week 3 is $746, etc). This money covers airport transportation, accommodation, meals, travel insurance, local transportation and other fees. While these prices are hefty, there are ways to cover these costs! Write letters to friends and family asking them for help, see what kind of funding your school may have for volunteers, and ask your church, temple or other religious organization about money they may have for volunteering programs.
There are also cheaper alternatives to these organizations. If you are interested in the environment and food production, a great option is working on an organic farm. Commonly referred to as “Wwoofing”, the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (www.wwoof.org) helps place people throughout the world on organic farms where the farmers need some extra help. In addition to learning everything you will need to know about organic farming, you are paid for your labor with room and board. While there is a fee for most Wwoof-ing endeavors, it is usually less than $50 for the duration of your time there. Some farms need people for a week or two while others can use volunteers for months.
There are also other organizations that specialize is less expensive volunteering endeavors. While they are a little more difficult to find, they do exist and can help place you in locations globally. One of the best websites for free or low cost volunteer endeavors is Volunteer Abroad Opportunities (www.vaops.com). This website was founded on the principle that volunteering abroad should not cost thousands of dollars. It lists numerous volunteer opportunities that cost little to no money.
Whether you are interested in volunteering abroad for a week or a year, there are thousands of opportunities available that will allow you to find the volunteering endeavor that is right for you. Make sure you do research, calculate costs and weigh all of your options. For a completely different experience than studying abroad, volunteer and make a difference in the world.