Volunteering abroad is a great opportunity to see the world, gain experience, learn new language skills, meet people, and make a difference. There are numerous opportunities to volunteer abroad. You can search for them on your own or go through one of many pre-established programs. Most, but not all, volunteer opportunities abroad do cost a fee for participation. This fee usually covers living and food expenses, but not always. It may also cover travel, insurance, and your visa registration. It is important to research the opportunities before you apply or send any money! Make sure the organization is legit and that you are getting what you want out of the program.
Things to consider:
- What are you looking to gain from volunteering?
- Have you volunteered before?
- What skills can you bring to the table?
- How much time can you commit? (2 weeks? 2 years?)
- Where do you want to go? Why?
- What kind of project do you want to do? Why?
- Are you looking to be on your own or nearby other volunteers?
- What accommodations are you looking for?
- Do you want to go through a program or find placement on your own?
- How much can you afford to pay?
Important questions to investigate when choosing a program:
- Do you want to go through a program based in the host country or based in the US?
- What are the program fees? What does this include? (travel, health insurance, visa)
- When was the organization established?
- How is their customer service? (Good information in a timely manner)
- Do they offer 24 hour support? (In country and office headquarters)
- Do they have clearly stated policies?
- Can they connect you with someone in the US that has completed the program?
Deciding where to go is always a difficult task and will take time and research. Additional things to think of:
- Have you been to this location?
- What’s the language of instruction? What’s the national language? (These can differ)
- What is the structure of higher ed in this particular country?
- Size of the university?
- Is the school an International School? (This matters, if one of your goals is immersion)
- Have you considered a Dual Degree Program? (Multiple locations in which you would receive two separate degrees)
Cross Cultural Solutions
Volunteers for Peace
YMCA Go Global Program
Volunteer Services Overseas
International Volunteer Program
Service Civil International
World Wide Language Study
A Broader View
Habitat for Humanity
IFRE Volunteers Abroad
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
Global Vision International
Institute for International Cooperation and Development
International Volunteer Programs Association
UN NGO Directory