Volunteering – The new holiday

So unfortunately I was consumed and defeated by my uni work AND exhaustion over the past two nights so I’m already behind in posting these two blogs, so forgive me for allowed university to be victorious over me this time! This does however mean you are lucky as I’ll be posting THREE new blogs today! First up I’m bringing you… Volunteering Overseas

Going overseas to volunteer is the buzz holiday these days – more and more people are looking for holidays that will teach them about other cultures and give them an experience out of the ordinary. Volunteer holidays often push you out of your comfort zone, requiring you to go above and beyond your emotional and physical limits. Often volunteer holidays are far from a ‘holiday’, often leaving you with the feeling that you need a REAL holiday when you return home? So why volunteer, where to volunteer and how to volunteer?

As regular readers of my blog would know, I spent a month early this year volunteering in Ghana, West Africa. This month was one of the most rewarding yet challenging months of my life and has left me not only with a travel buzz, but with a volunteer travel buzz. Seeing the kids stay past 3pm to learn our Australian anthem was very rewarding – their hunger for education and knowledge is inspiring and endearing. Yet the long days at schools weren’t without challenge either –  being thrown a Home Economics book and told “TEACH!” on my first day almost had me in tears! I knew nothing about Ghanaian traditional ways of cooking and I was sure to be the laughing stock of children who had already been taught how to ground ‘fufu’ from the time they could walk!

This aside, the benefits of volunteering are endless, and though you march into a country believing you’re going to be teaching the kids a lot, you leave with more knowledge and insight then you came with and a feeling that these 12-15 year olds kids have taught you FAR more than you taught them!

AUSAID have many overseas volunteer programs and encourage volunteering because:

Volunteering overseas is one way that Australians can make a positive contribution to poverty reduction, sustainable development and cross cultural understanding”

The issues that stem from poverty can often seem overwhelming and leave one person feeling useless, but volunteering overseas is a huge contribution to poverty reduction, as organisations today partner with local groups to ensure volunteers are participating in needed and sustainable programs. Cross-cultural understanding is another invaluable skill for life – as whatever field you work in, due to the era of globalisation that we live in, your work is sure to span across the globe and across cultural barriers.

So now I’ve looked at some reasons as to WHY you should volunteer overseas, what about the WHERE and the HOW?

Where you want to volunteer can be based on many things – firstly what country do you have a passion for? There are so many different regions that have volunteer programs – the Pacific, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, Africa and even Eastern Europe. A big factor in choosing one of these regions though is often cost. Obviously regions closer to home such as the Pacific and Asia are much cheaper to get to, minimising your overall volunteer costs. The type of program you want to do can effect where you end up as well – teaching is probably the most widely available program thoughout all regions, but there’s other options too – health clinics, sport teachers, communication officers, legal help, business advisors, animal and environment conservationists – the list of possibilities is wide, and all the organisations that I’ll suggest below have details about the programs they offer.

The HOW part of volunteering is very important! Choosing which organisation you’ll travel with can make or break your experience, so I’d encourage you to research, research, research. Below are a few organisations that offer great programs and also some information about AYAD.

Projects Abroad

“Volunteering on one of our projects gives you the opportunity to become more than a tourist; to become part of a community in one of 26 developing countries, to live and work beside local people, understand their world and make friends for life.

Your energy, compassion and skills can make a real difference to the lives of the people you work with in projects based around care, teaching, conservation, sports, community programmes, medicine and physiotherapy.

Other projects in human rights law, journalism and others, offer unique work experience with the chance to make a contribution to the community within which you live.”

Volunteer Abroad 

“Our programs are perfect for school leavers looking for an adventure after a gruelling Year 12 year, tertiary students who wish to defer university or take a short holiday exploring the world or anybody who needs a break from the daily grind!

If you have always wanted to give something back to the environment, provide aid to citizens in a third world country, work overseas or have the ability to express yourself in a second language, then our new 18+ programs may be perfect for you!”

Antipodeans

Are you looking for an adventure in your semester break?
Do you want to experience life in a developing country?

Then the UniBreak program is for you. Be constructive in your university holidays and add value to your résumé. Travel with a group of like-minded students from across Australia and make a contribution to communities in Africa, Asia or South America.

UniBreak is tailored to help you gain practical experience in community development or possibly in your chosen field of study. It is a chance for you to make a contribution to sustainable development, to expand your personal and professional skills and to experience life in a culture very different to your own.

UniBreak allows you to go beyond the boundaries of back-packing to savour life in small communities. Live with local people, work alongside them and use your skills to make a meaningful contribution. UniBreak is about you learning and expanding your knowledge of local culture through immersion into small communities.”

AYAD

“The Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) Program aims to strengthen mutual understanding between Australia and the countries of Asia, the Pacific and Africa and make a positive contribution to development.

The Program achieves these aims by placing skilled young Australians (18-30) on short-term assignments in developing countries in Asia, the Pacific and Africa. AYAD volunteers work with local counterparts in Host Organisations to achieve sustainable development outcomes through capacity building, skills transfer and institutional strengthening.
 

AYAD assignments cover a diverse range of sectors including Education, Environment, Gender, Governance, Health, Infrastructure, Rural Development and Trades.

The AYAD Program is an Australian Government, AusAID initiative and is fully funded by the Australian Government’s overseas aid agency, AusAID”

So what are you waiting for? Start visiting these websites TODAY and be volunteering overseas by SUMMER!

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