The millennial generation is often faced with a yearning to help others, see the world, and learn more about different cultures. They sometimes fall into a rut upon graduating college or after finding a job about which they are not passionate, or simply want a change of pace. Young people experiencing these longings can incorporate them into their lives in many ways. One ideal way to help others in need while simultaneously traveling and seeing a new part of the world is to volunteer abroad. In countries all over the world, people are living in desperate situations, often lacking the basic necessities needed to live comfortably. Thankfully, there are many organizations that send volunteers to these countries to help people, animals and the environment. Helping others around the world is a great way to gain a new perspective and enrich the lives of many including your own.
Along with the obvious benefits of helping support a cause by giving your time, volunteering can be an immeasurable benefit on your resume, helping you stand out to employers upon your return. According to an article in the Nonprofit Quarterly, volunteers have 27% higher odds of landing a job than non-volunteers. Volunteeringinamerica.gov reinforces this statistic and adds that individuals without high school diplomas see an even greater raise in chances of finding a job after volunteering. Aside from looking attractive on your resume, this article also points out the networking opportunities provided by volunteering.
I can personally attest to the benefits of helping others abroad. While volunteering at a nursing home in Cartago, a small town just outside San Jose, Costa Rica, my passions for travel and helping others merged. Assisting those who truly needed and appreciated my help while getting to see a new part of the world was a dream come true. Working alongside nurses who redefined compassion inspired me more than words can express. Taking care of people at an age that we will all reach eventually humbled me and changed my perspective on life. I not only learned a substantial amount about myself, but about the Costa Rican culture. My time there was so rewarding that upon my return, I instantly craved to have a similar experience.
Thankfully, the company with whom I traveled, the International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ), sends volunteers to numerous destinations, and I set my sights on India. Whether via films that may or may not accurately portray Indian culture, books, or my addiction to Indian food, my love of the culture abounds in my life. It seemed only natural that I would go there one day, but upon the realization that IVHQ had a program in India, that day became sooner rather than later. I only had to decide what to do for my volunteer project this time around. Since last time I assisted the elderly, I opted for the other end of the age spectrum and signed up for child care of the children of Tibetan refugees in Dharamsala, a small town in Northern India.
Volunteering abroad is a fantastic opportunity provided by many organizations. When selecting the one that is right for you, it is important to thoroughly research as much as you can about your different options and read reviews of former participants. I had an immensely positive experience volunteering with IVHQ, an organization based in New Zealand that sends people to many different countries. Cross-Cultural Solutions and IS Volunteers are two other reputable companies with high ratings that assist in volunteer placements. Another consideration when selecting an organization is what kind of volunteering you wish to do. Whether you enjoy healthcare, childcare, conservation or construction, there is bound to be something for everyone. Most volunteer organizations are staffed with people eager to help set you on your journey!
Granted, there are fees associated with the experience to cover costs of food and housing provided by local families, which can act as a deterrent to potential volunteers. Thankfully, there are online fundraising services available such as GoFundMe, an organization through which I am currently raising money to support my next adventure in India. YouCaring.com and Razoo are other sites that provide a means for fundraising. Some of these sites take a small percentage of donations for their service but conveniently transfer donations right into your bank account. Another option is to ask friends and family directly to support your cause.
I truly appreciate any financial support that my readers can provide and I will be posting frequent updates about my experience!
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Marisa graduated in 2011 with a BA in Spanish Language and Literature from CU and then moved to Los Angeles to pursue further education in Journalism and Media Studies at UCLA. She loves to travel, cooking, seeing movies and of course, writing!