How to Find the Right Volunteer Abroad Program for You
Are you thinking of joining a volunteer abroad program? Taking a gap year to volunteer? With so many marvelous programs and nonprofits to consider, it can be challenging to narrow your choices. Here are some reflective and practical questions to ask that can help you find the best volunteer program for you. Make this into an exercise. Write out your answers. Take time to reflect. You’ll likely find overlapping and recurring themes that will lead you to the right volunteer program for your volunteer trip or gap year experience.
Introspective Questions to Ask Yourself
What are your gifts and talents?
Make a list of the things you’re good at doing. Maybe you’re a natural photographer, every kid’s favorite, or a great encourager in group projects. Even if your gift seems insignificant, write it down. Who knows how it could surface when searching for the best volunteer abroad program?
What do you enjoy doing?
What do you long to do in your free time, or what lights you up in any conversation? What could you do or talk about for hours? Is there an activity that gives you energy and fulfills your spirit? Make a list of everything you enjoy doing, no matter how small, even if it’s matching socks.
Where have you always wanted to travel?
It’s a common icebreaker question: if you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? What country sparks your interest? Where have you always wanted to visit? What landmarks have you wanted to see in your lifetime? What do you want to cross off your bucket list? Dream big. List these out.
What do you want to learn?
Is there something you want to learn? How do you want to build your resume? Maybe you have an interest in organic farming, want to experience Chinese culture, or learn a new language. Now’s as good as any time to learn these things! Joining a volunteer abroad program can teach you incredible things you couldn’t learn otherwise.
How do you want to make a global difference?
What global issue or social cause are you most passionate about? Is there a cause that sparks your fire or heightens your compassion? How do you want to make the world a better place? Give this a label and brainstorm ways you could meet the need. Be creative.
Practical Questions to Ask Yourself
When can you travel?
How flexible is your schedule? Are you restricted to travel during winter break or spring semester? Can you fluctuate your travel dates? The time of year you’re available to travel can affect the volunteer programs that best fit your schedule.
How long can you travel?
How much time do you have to dedicate to a volunteer abroad program? One week? A month? Your entire summer break? The time you can commit to volunteering could narrow your choices on which volunteer program you partner with. Some offer trips of varying lengths, while others set standard time frames.
What’s your budget?
How much can you pay toward a volunteer trip? Do you have time to fundraise? Will your parents contribute to trip costs? Setting a realistic budget will help turn your dream of going on a volunteer trip into a concrete goal. Set your budget, and look for volunteer programs within that amount. You’ll feel more confident joining a volunteer program you know you can afford.
You’ve answered the questions; now look at your list. Where do your answers overlap? Do you see a theme? Mix and match your answers. Group your answers by interest. By honestly answering these questions, you’ll be well on your way to finding the best volunteer abroad program for you!