Volunteer Opportunities - Global
Volunteering is a frequently overlooked alternative to learning and working abroad. However, the merits of volunteering make it an inexpensive way to obtain college credits or get international work experience. Volunteering can also be essential to your future career prospects especially if you are interested in working in the nonprofit sector. Either way, volunteering can provide you with résumé-building experience that reflects your unique strengths and new global skills. Wondering how volunteering can benefit you?
Learn from the source
Learn firsthand about a community, its culture, the people, and the issues they face. In many cases you will be living among the locals. Many volunteer programs involve living in remote and unique places that you might not ordinarily visit or have access to as a tourist. It is common for volunteers to live in the community in which they are working. There is no better way to get a sense of a place than by spending some time there and living within its normal conventions.
Promote a cause
Whether you raise money for your trip or pay your own expenses, you know your contributions are being used to further the cause—not to make a profit. The goals of most volunteer programs reflect an organization’s overall mission, which could be peace, cooperation, international understanding, justice, tolerance, or just generally making the world a better place.
Apply your skills
As a volunteer you will use your special skills and knowledge in an unconventional setting. If you come from an engineering background, you might help design and construct a local bridge. If you have business skills, you could help local women set up a business to sell their handicrafts. If you studied medicine, you may work and train other health-care workers. Some volunteer expeditions, internships, and research programs may involve learning new skills, such as scuba diving, foreign languages, or methods of restoration. Generally there are no prerequisites for volunteering. The exceptions would be business and health-care volunteer programs, where a graduate degree and previous experience may be required. Many of the programs do not require proficiency in a foreign language. However, if you speak another language or have other knowledge you would like to use, such as a diving certification or photography experience, ask the organization how your skills can best be integrated. Most programs supply background information and training for each project.
Participate in a cross-cultural exchange of ideas
During your volunteer experience you will undoubtedly come into contact and exchange ideas with your group and the local people. Although group sizes vary, group interaction is an essential element of any program, and one that will aid in your personal growth and development. The group could consist of volunteers from other countries as well as local organizers, thus creating an environment for enriching cross-cultural exchanges.
Earn college credit
Depending on the duration and the nature of the volunteer program, you may be able to arrange college credit for your participation. For more information contact the UAA Office of International Affairs.
- Adapted from “Volunteering Abroad: Lending a Hand While Learning”, By Elizabeth Kruempelmann http://old.goinglobal.com/hot_topics/kruempelmann_volunteer.asp
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