Volunteer Jobs Abroad

Believe it or not, thousands of people around the world pay to volunteer in Latin American countries, Africa, and other locations. Others, of course, are getting paid. Some of the more common volunteer jobs abroad include teaching youth, building housing, community building, delivering medical supplies and administering medical assistance, teaching English, and wildlife conservation. Volunteering can be a truly rewarding experience, whether it’s humanitarian, environmental, or teaching.

Why Volunteer Abroad?

Being a volunteer overseas can benefit you in many ways. First of all, you will receive a real world experience that most others will never dare to acquire.

Additionally, working for many volunteer placement agencies you get the opportunity to learn about non-profit work, get involved with developing the volunteer program, marketing, and of course…helping people and/or organizations in a host country.

Another reason many people decide to do international service work is for college credit or as part of an internship related to their field of study. University academic advisers and/or professors often help arrange volunteer programs abroad.

Could there be a better benefit to volunteering abroad than immersing yourself in a new culture and learning a foreign language? Big benefit. Those in society who are multi-lingual often have an advantage when it comes to getting certain types jobs and have greater earning potential.

Most who have volunteered put the experience on their resume. What could look better than a combination of paying work experience combined with volunteer humanitarian or environmental work overseas? It shows prospective employers that you have ambition, character, and a strong work ethic. Also, the work you did as a volunteer just might be directly related to the job you’re pursuing (e.g., health care work, project management, teaching, etc.).

Volunteer Placement Agencies

Most volunteer job opportunities are found through volunteer placement agencies, which organize volunteer experiences in host countries around the world. Typically, you would pursue a long- or short-term volunteer placement through an agency.

Because most volunteer placement organizations operate on a tight budget, volunteers will have to pay various fees for housing, program administration, travel, and food.

When you approach an agency be sure to let them know what type of work you’re seeking and tell them what you are good at: health care, project management, teaching English, construction, child care, etc. What do you bring to the table exactly?

Before choosing an agency to work with you should make a list of your priorities. Where do you want to volunteer? What type of volunteer work do you want to do? How much are you willing to pay? Once you’ve got this information down on paper then start researching volunteer placement agencies – there are many. Contact those that made your final list and ask lots of questions. Finally, be sure to get everything in writing from your ‘agency of choice’ before signing a contract and flying off to some far away land.

Government Volunteer Programs

Government sponsored volunteer programs are usually quite different in that they may actually pay their volunteers a stipend and cover airfare, lodging, and other expenses. The Peace Corps is a well known example of such a program. In exchange for the ‘compensation’ you may have to sign for a year or two.

Volunteer Vacations

Volunteer vacations are an interesting concept and worth exploring. On your next trip to China, Mexico, or Africa, for instance, you might consider scheduling in a week or two to volunteer at a clinic, help out a humanitarian project (e.g., health care supply distribution), or even assist in taking care of wildlife. One family with whom we are familiar spent more than a week tending to pandas at a reserve in China, feeding them, cleaning their cages, and harvesting bamboo. These volunteers had no previous experience with pandas, but through research learned of the opportunity. Before and after their week of volunteering the family did ‘the usual’ tourist activities in China.

Some might consider disaster relief work, such as cleaning up after a hurricane or tsunami, time well spent on a vacation.

There are lots of ways to mix short-term, personally rewarding international volunteering with your vacation.

Work Permits and Visas

Unfortunately, you can’t just hop on a plane to Africa and start a year-long volunteer stint upon landing. You’ll need to do a lot of prep work before departure, including the acquisition of proper work permits and visas and a passport.

It’s difficult to generalize, but many countries allow foreigners to stay for up to 90 days on a tourist visa. When your visa expires you may need to exit then re-enter the host country and pay any associated visa fees again.

Be sure to review a wide variety of volunteering resources as well as this page of volunteer programs before making any commitments. There are many good resources on the Internet.

Cruise Jobs >>>