Your parents may disapprove of you gallivanting around the world with no direction or purpose, but here are eight ways that volunteering abroad will make your mom burst with pride.
This article is brought to you by Elaine Andres, Volunteer Abroad Team Member at Go Overseas. She is an experienced traveler and has volunteered in Tanzania. Go Overseas lists every volunteer, study, teach and intern abroad program in the world, with alumni Yelp style ratings, reviews and more. Check out Go Volunteer Abroad and follow @VolunteeReviews on Twitter.
1) Travel the Road Less Traveled
Volunteering abroad will often take you to developing countries in regions of the world you would never before have considered visiting.
When other parents tell of their son’s or daughter’s European hostel-hopping adventure, your mom will be able to impress her friends with the fact that you’ll be traveling to a country that (most likely) no one in the room has been to.
See parts of the world that other people haven’t. Photo by rogersmithpix.
2) Survive Culture Shock
As a volunteer abroad, you force yourself to encounter a travel destination beyond the curtain of tourist comfort. Sometimes you may not even have electricity or running water.
Acknowledging that you are an outsider and immersing yourself into the community’s already existing framework will only make you a stronger and more resourceful person.
Your mom can be rest assured knowing that you are learning to be more appreciative of the resources that have been made available to you at home.
3) Learn a New Language
Chances are you won’t be fluent in the language that’s spoken where you are volunteering.
Volunteering abroad gives you an opportunity to stretch your language skills by forcing you to use them in real-life situations.
The best way to learn a new language is to practice in everyday conversations. When you get home, watch your mom do a double take when you greet her in a foreign language.
Talk to locals in their native language. Photo by IRRI Images.
4) Become a Family Superstar
You and your mom can both relish in the fact that you’ll have infinite things to talk about at your next family party.
Volunteering abroad will give you an endless amount of unique and meaningful stories to share with your friends and family—and in doing so you might just spark the spirit of volunteerism within them.
5) Be Financially Responsible
A big complaint about volunteering abroad is the cost. The truth is volunteering abroad can cost a lot less than a traditional vacation.
First and foremost, volunteer programs are often hosted in countries with a low cost of living. And if you volunteer with certain programs and NGOs, your room, board and a general tour of the area are usually included in the overall program fee.
Compare this to the cost of hotels or hostels, restaurant bills and tourist attractions and volunteering abroad is clearly a more cost effective way to travel.
Plus, if you want to do a few tourist activities during your free time or after your program ends, companies often give volunteers discounted rates.
6) Become More Employable
A little known secret: many employers find volunteer abroad experience more valuable than domestic internship experience.
If working in the NGO or nonprofit world is what you’re after, volunteering abroad is a necessary first step. If not, volunteering abroad still proves you are able to work under pressure with limited resources all in a foreign country.
Your international experience and cross-cultural understanding shows what you are passionate about and makes you stand out in a stack of resumes.
Real-life team experiences can help build an impressive resume. Photo by dpinkenya.
7) Find Your Own Path
Volunteering abroad may give you that career push both you and your parents have been hoping for.
Your volunteer abroad experience can help you learn more about yourself, develop your passions and help you select a career path you’re excited to pursue.
8) Do Something Good
Your mom can’t help but be proud that you’re a do-er.
The world is full of cynics who will tell you that volunteers abroad don’t save the world, and they are absolutely right. However, sitting at home hopelessly won’t do a thing either.
Volunteering abroad gives you the opportunity to learn about world issues, experience them firsthand and help support change in your own way.
Whether you have a technical skill or just your time, whatever service you can provide can help to better a community more than anyone who just sits at home doing nothing.
Make a difference by sharing your knowledge with others. Photo by WAVA Limited.
Have you volunteered abroad? How was the experience and how did it shape you? Let me know in the comments.
If you like this article, you might also like: 10 Volunteer Programs to Improve Your Leadership Skills.
Main photo: immerse yourself in another world by volunteering abroad by WAVA Limited.