Preparing for Volunteer Work Abroad

Most work abroad organizations put their volunteers through extensive training before sending them off. This article is for people who are interested in volunteering but want to know more before making a commitment to any organization. The most important preparations a person can do are personal, financial and informational.

Personal
Prepare for change. Living in a different culture there is a significant possibility that you may undergo many changes. As you experience and socialize with new people from another country, your ideas will grow, and you may start to develop new ways of looking at the world. You may begin to feel differently about yourself, the people around you and your beliefs. These changes may be evident to people close to you, and they may not fully understand. You may experience challenges in a new country. The difficulties may initially feel insurmountable, especially if you try to handle them on your own. Speak freely to your peers about your emotions, and know that many of them may have similar feelings. Although it ‘s nice to expect positive things to happen while working abroad, you also need to set realistic expectations.

Finances
Money is one of the major concerns for those who are interested in volunteering abroad. Since you will be leaving your country for some time, there has to be some financial planning on your part. First, you have to consider your regular bills. Make a list of all your bills (car payment, insurance, phone, credit card, etc.) and figure out how much money it will cost to cover them for the weeks or months you will be gone. Second is the money it will cost to cover your travel, housing, and living expenses. I know it sounds weird having to pay for volunteer work, but these are nonprofit organizations, and donations and fundraising are how things get done. If you plan to ask for donations from friends and family, prepare a presentation outlining the goals of the organizations and what you will be doing to help meet these aims.

Informational
It is smart to research the country you will be volunteering in Firstly, look at a map; will you be heading north, south, east or west? What other countries are nearby? Secondly, research the weather; you don’t wish to be caught without a warm coat, rain jacket or shorts depending upon the part of the world you end up, and during what season. Thirdly, is the area you will be volunteering war-torn? Has there been recent news involving terrorist? These are very real and very scary questions that work abroad volunteer must address. Visit forums and other places on the internet and try and speak with someone who has volunteered in the same country and region you are interested; they will be a wealth of knowledge, and they can give you tips and insight on how to survive and deal with the people in the area
Prepare for change, consider the length of your stay and make initial financial preparations for it Consult individuals who have gone through similar experiences and get their opinions and advice. Research the area and always stay active; you can make a difference.