Planning to take up a volunteering project during your gap year but don’t know where to go? With so many placement firms, independent organizations and NGOs offering a number of volunteering programs set up in various locations across the globe, it can be a real challenge to fix your mind on one location. Most of us know that choosing a destination for holidaying and choosing one for volunteering are two very different things. While a holiday spot is chosen according to budget, timeline, etc., a volunteering destination needs a lot more thought.
Thus, it becomes important to choose a volunteering destination wisely, so that the purpose for the trip is achieved and we are left with fine memories of a happy sojourn. Here are some key points to keep in mind while choosing your volunteering destinations:
There is a wide array of volunteering programs on offer. You need to look for one that suits your skills best or the one you think is close to your heart. For example, if teaching is your field of interest, you can select a destination where there are ample teaching programs for you to be part of. If you are a ‘people’s person‘, getting involved in community building programs, such as one that helps women’s empowerment, is a good idea.
Wildlife enthusiasts can select a destination that has quite a bit of forest cover. Similarly, if you are interested in exploring marine life, a coastal region is where you would want to go for volunteering. Generally, a volunteering program asks you to devote 4-5 hours every day to it. The rest of the day is for you to do as you please. Another benefit is that, as a volunteer, you can share your experiences with people you interact with. If your program is one involving kids, sharing your experiences will not only help them learn things they may not have known earlier but also generate curiosity in them that will drive them to explore more on their own.
If you are getting enrolled in a volunteering program through a placement agency, your lodging and meal expenses will be covered in the fee you pay them. However, it’s your airfare, local traveling, shopping and other miscellaneous expenses that notch up your bill. If you are on a budget, choose your destination carefully, as enrolling on a volunteering program in a developed nation will cost you more.
This is a very important factor to keep in mind when finalizing a volunteering project. Although you may find a local companion or a guide to take you through the project – and, of course, the co-coordinators of the program will also be there – it is very important for you to be comfortable with the local dialect. For example, an African national volunteering in Australia may still be fine, as the local language is English, but a project in China may just become a bit of a challenge (unless you know Chinese)!
You need to know exactly how much time you can dedicate to the volunteering project. Since work will be the prime objective of your trip, you must plan the number of days accordingly, so you get enough time for exploring the place without choking up your volunteering schedule. Programs can range from 2 weeks to a couple of months, so you have options galore. Also be mindful of the season in which you are traveling. If summer is not your kind of weather, better choose a winter month. Also, if you want a spot of local fun, check the festivals due that month at the destination – it will spice up your stay. India, for example, has a festival or the other throughout the year, so you need not worry about that in India.
This is a very important factor that needs to be kept in mind. While many countries allow you to volunteer with tourist visas, there are many which ask for a legitimate employee visa with all other supporting documents from the firm you are working for in place. It is always advisable to get in touch with your embassy to get information before you undertake volunteer work abroad. You can also talk to your placement agency about the visa.
Volunteering Solutions provide an array of opportunities to volunteer abroad. So Please don’t hesitate to contact us!
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