Volunteering abroad can be a rewarding and valuable experience for your future. It allows you the opportunity to share your time, skills, and culture with another community overseas. Most volunteer programs are unpaid and from a few weeks to some months in duration; however you can stay longer in some cases.
It is extremely important to consider your goals and expectations prior to participating in any volunteer project. Your service may be greatly appreciated and useful, but you may not observe immediate impact on the community. Furthermore, program features can vary dramatically by destination and may not always be clearly outlined. While in one place the work could be clearly established, such as painting a school, elsewhere the work may take more initiative on your part.
Remember that a successful volunteer project focuses on the needs of the community, so it is crucial to remain flexible with your own expectations and preferences.
Consider asking the following questions as you search for programs:
- Is there a program fee, and if so, what does it cover?
- Are any specific skills or language ability required?
- Can you select a personal time frame or must you commit to specific duration?
- With what organization and community will you work?
- Where will you live and what other support services are provided?
Refer to the International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) website for more suggestions on selecting a program.
Career Services Volunteer Opportunities
U.S. Government Sponsored Program:
Peace Corps is a well-respected U.S. governmental agency that places U.S. citizens around the world to participate in international development activities. Each volunteer receives a living stipend and a substantial relocation allowance at the end of his/her two-year contract. The program can also help pay off student loans.
Peace Corps Volunteers serve in more than 75 countries in Africa, Asia, South America, Europe, and the Middle East. Serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer can be a life-changing experience, the hardest job you’ll ever love! Volunteers learn a new language, exchange ideas, and take part in their communities as partners and friends.
Peace Corps volunteers are placed according to the needs of the host community and skill sets of participants, but the main categories of work include:
- Education and English Teaching
- Youth & Community Development
- Health & HIV/AIDS
- Business and Information & Communication Technology
- Agriculture and Forestry
Service-learning is a term used to describe educational programs that are structured to allow students to learn outside the classroom while participating in service projects. In a sense, service learning combines study abroad with international volunteer activities.
GoAbroad (search for service learning)