Is volunteering something you would like to do in an international context? Not sure where to find volunteer opportunities? Fear not—in this EDUopinions article, we will discuss everything you need to know about student volunteering abroad and highlight some choice programmes to consider.
Can you volunteer while studying abroad?
Yes! For many reasons, volunteering is a great way to spend your time abroad alongside your studies. First, volunteering is an easy way to make a positive difference and contribute to society in your host country. Second, it can help you make friends, especially ones from outside your university, allowing you to learn more about the country you are in and its people. Finally, though it is not its intended purpose, volunteering looks good on resumés and CVs, which may help you down the line when applying for jobs.
Is volunteering abroad good for university?
As mentioned above, volunteering can be a helpful experience to list on a resume, CV or job/university application. Having participated in a voluntary project or social cause demonstrates a person’s commitment to their ideals and values. In addition, student volunteering abroad can teach you various important skills, like cross-cultural communication, teamwork, problem-solving, planning and organisation. However, volunteering should not be viewed as a means to get into a good university, instead, you should volunteer for a cause or project you truly care about. That way, all parties are better off.
How old do you have to be to volunteer abroad?
Typically, most student volunteering abroad programmes require participants to be 18 or older. That said, many programmes are chaperoned, requiring parental permission to participate. If you are still too young to participate, it may be worth looking into international student volunteer programmes which come to your country from abroad. You may be able to participate as a local student, or the programme coordinators may have other ideas for how to get involved.
How can you volunteer online?
Volunteering online has become more common and easier to do since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. If you still want to pursue student volunteering abroad, there are many opportunities worth considering. For instance, UN Volunteers virtually connects people with international organisations to help with writing, research, graphic design and more. If you are bi/multi-lingual, you may want to look into Translators Without Borders, a non-profit organisation assisting other NGOs with their translation needs. As well, Amnesty Decoders is another great way to get involved virtually; their volunteers conduct research and verify events around the world to help Amnesty in its mission to protect human rights.
Where is the best place to volunteer abroad?
When determining the best place to volunteer abroad, it is important to consider a few factors. First, your decision to volunteer abroad should be motivated by skill or passion of yours that can be used to help others. Try asking yourself the question: what am I good at and who could I help? This thought process can help you narrow down a list of potential places to volunteer abroad.
Next, language is another important consideration to make when deciding where to study abroad. Speaking the local language of wherever you volunteer may be a huge advantage in some cases, as it can help you communicate with locals, better understand your project and even form lasting relationships with people along the way.
Otherwise, some of the most popular places for students volunteering abroad include Costa Rica, Thailand, Kenya, India and Peru. These countries have well-established programmes for international students to be able to volunteer there. For more ideas about where to volunteer abroad, check out this EDUopinions article about how volunteering can change your life.
Which volunteering abroad programmes are best?
It is difficult to say anyone volunteer abroad programme is the best, as each has its own pros and cons and every person is looking for something different out of their experience. That said, there are several reliable programmes which can be good places to start looking.
Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year offers students the opportunity to embark on high-impact, experiential volunteer projects on four continents (Africa, Asia, Europe and South America). Their programmes vary widely in length, project type and location but all provide an affordable and impactful experience. As well, Plan My Gap Year handles many of the administrative aspects of student volunteering abroad, meaning you do not have to worry about securing visas, lodging, travel insurance or health care. If you are looking for a well-established organisation to volunteer abroad with, Plan My Gap Year is a great option!
Another fantastic organisation to look into for your experience as a student volunteer abroad is EF, which specialises in supporting students to meet their potential as global citizens. With cultural/language/volunteering programmes in countries around the world, EF offers students a plethora of options as well as time-tested quality assurance—EF has been helping students travel, volunteer and experience life abroad since the 1960s. What’s more, all EF volunteer programmes include morning language courses, an excellent opportunity to enhance your linguistic skills. All in all, EF provides numerous high-quality and impactful opportunities for student volunteering abroad.
Projects Abroad offer high quality, trusted volunteer programmes that deliver real impact to local communities. Students looking to embark on a volunteer abroad experience with a specific skill set or focus in mind should really look into Projects Abroad, as the organisation offers volunteer programmes in a variety of different fields, including medicine & healthcare, engineering, social work, microfinance, journalism and more. In addition, with programmes running in over 25 countries, Projects Abroad is sure to have a programme that interests you!
Conclusion about student volunteering abroad
As we have seen, there are many options available for students volunteering abroad. Which ones are right for you depends on your own personal interests and goals. For more information on student volunteering abroad, feel free to reach out to EDUopinions for free, personalised advice.
Check out these related articles on taking part in extracurricular activities as a student and what it is like to do an exchange programme in Egypt.