Volunteering can be either a conscious act or an unconscious one. A large number of human beings unconsciously volunteer in some way or the other almost every day.
Such unconscious acts of volunteering play an important foundation in the formation and survival of human bonds and the existence of society on mutual care and shared values of empathy. The conscious act of volunteering is one step ahead is often defined by socially and culturally evolved values.
Therefore, when a person helps an elderly woman cross a busy road or feeds the hungry, all these acts are defined by a set of socially evolved values.
The socio-psychological need of every human being for a sense of belonging in relation to the other forms the basis of volunteering. The need for a sense of belonging also arises from the need for emotional well-being and for a socio-cultural identity. The need also propels human beings to go beyond the self to reach out to people and nature.
Just as volunteering is a quest to see oneself in relation to others and do something meaningful for others in what is a ‘community’ of humanity, a relationship too is based on the same values of shared caregiving, love and a sense of belonging. Therefore, to volunteer together as a couple is one of the most benign and fulfilling things a couple in love can do.
VolSol, thus, encourages and endorses volunteering abroad as a couple and assures you of an engaging and rewarding experience. Here’s how you get started on it.
There’s a good chance that your partner and you may want to explore different countries or even different continents altogether. Africa or Asia? Latin America or Australia? So how does one arrive at a consensus? Get into a good old beaches v/s mountains debate or delve deeper?
Is there a certain kind of culture either of you is eager to explore? Or a language whose intricacies you want to catch?
The best way to decide on a country of your choice is to list the pros – be it the costs, nature of projects, where can you get to travel, if it is safe, and how you manage to adjust to the project and of course with each other outside of the comfortable confines of home.
VolSol offers volunteering opportunities across 25 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Australia. What’s more? There is a comprehensive Guidebook available to get you in-depth information on volunteering in each of these countries. It can really help in making an informed destination.
However, some of the oft-chosen destinations for couple volunteering include India, Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Kenya, Peru, Costa Rica, etc. While these are some of the frequented destinations by couples, there are several other countries where volunteering opportunities are facilitated.
How does one go about choosing a volunteering project? Are you outdoorsy and want to work for environmental conservation or are you both animal lovers and want to contribute your bit there? Do you both want to teach kids together or simply want to spend your time taking care of toddlers?
VolSol facilitates diverse volunteering opportunities in different destinations. While childcare and teaching projects are offered in most countries and are ideal for people who have a way with kids, VolSol projects in areas of conservation, community development, medical volunteering, women empowerment, and animal care amongst others.
The best feature of the volunteering projects offered by VolSol is the different kinds of people one encounter during the journey. The nature of accommodation adds the cherry on top to this. Couples can either choose to live with a host family in private accommodation or live with other volunteers in dormitory-style accommodation.
This opportunity to meet and interact with people as a couple will lay the foundation of memorable shared experiences. Be it designing a fun game for toddlers together or making paper out of elephant poo in Thailand, getting out of the comfort zone and doing something that one won’t usually do in their everyday lives. And doing this, especially around a new set of people is an effective way to understand each other and find out how each of you reacts in unusual circumstances.
When we are in new surroundings we often cling to the familiar things or people to avoid too much of a culture shock, but moving out of that comfort zone might be surprisingly rewarding. Use this volunteer trip to immerse yourself in the local culture and traditions, with your partner.
Traveling together to an entirely new country together will be a cherished couple memory and the experiences and perspective of both partners will add to the thrill of exploration. This does not mean that the exploration part is a cakewalk.
“As a couples therapist, I hear a lot about the challenge of finding the quality time and the importance of vacations. Many couples are balancing two demanding careers not to mention kids, chores and family demands. It is no wonder that when couples do finally plan some romantic time away, many opt to lie on a beach somewhere — preferably a location accessible through a direct flight — and chill. Many couples and families are getting ready to do just that for the last few days of summer. For sure, unstructured beach time is a wonderful way to de-stress, reconnect and recharge.
However, in terms of building intimacy through shared experiences, lounging on a beach is not necessarily the answer. Through my work with many couples, I notice that planning a brief vacation doing something more meaningful (and less vegetative) can do a lot to enhance a relationship.” – Elizabeth Joy LaMotte, Couples Therapist, DC Counselling and Psychotherapy Center
When a couple heads out for a meaningful vacation together, there’s a window of opportunity to bring in a change – both to the people one is volunteering with and within ourselves as well. Helping others together will be a welcome change and will potentially alter the rhythm of the daily monotony that wears out most relationships. Sharing a joint purpose and taking the focus off of daily lives brings back the old charm.
“Most of my notes were made on my sheet where I reviewed each week, so I will try to keep this brief. The trip was amazing. For the price, I can’t believe what we all got. Stay, food, and the trip included. It is great. We had so much fun. The kids were a handful but were still so amazing. I am going to miss them and hope that one day I can see them again.
There were some days where they would spit on me and hit me and some days where they would sit there and rest their head on my shoulder. Each day I never knew what to expect and I loved it. I felt like I built such a good relationship with them and when I was leaving they wouldn’t stop giving me hugs.
In all honesty, I was nervous and not overly excited to work with kindergarten students just because I know how they can be, but by the end of the program I found myself wanting to stay longer. This program has made me want to do so much more in my community and makes me want to make more of an impact at home. My girlfriend and I had an amazing time. I was able to try Alpaca, guinea pig, lamb, and octopus. I enjoyed it all.
The restaurants are amazing and all speak fairly decent English. We also got to experience some nice massages for really good prices. Everything here is priced very well and getting by is a lot easier without speaking Spanish than I would’ve thought. Everything in this country is amazing and I want to come back one day.” – Thomas
These are the words of one of our former volunteers, Thomas, who volunteered with his girlfriend in Peru.
If you, too, have been eyeing volunteering abroad with your partner, drop us a mail at [email protected] to get started on your journey.
A Culture, Gender And Social Enthusiast, Aparna loves being in and exploring diverse and multicultural setups. She finds solace in humor and reading up all kinds of things, including shampoo bottle directions.
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