From the benefits it brings to others to the gains in your own life, there are so many reasons to volunteer. But establishing why YOU want to volunteer is very personal and not something that others can dictate to you.
Figuring out what volunteering means to you can help steer you in the right direction when it comes to deciding on which volunteer project or organization to select. It can also help you identify the changes you want to see in your life and the world and how you should go about achieving them.
When you ask most people “why do you want to volunteer?” the response is centered around helping others. After all, this is the reason that most volunteer organizations are established in the first place – to provide assistance where it is otherwise lacking. It might be assisting in the fight against poverty or raising awareness about an environmental concern you feel passionate about. But at the essence of volunteering is a desire to take positive action about a cause that matters to you.
Many businesses and organizations are only successful because of their volunteer workforce, relying on the time and effort given by individuals to achieve their goals. Some are filling gaps not covered by the government system while others are taking a stance on issues that are not supported by local governments. When you look at the achievements of volunteer-based organizations around the globe, it’s incredible what can be achieved when collective minds come together.
For some people, the reason they decide to volunteer is out of a desire to travel, but to do it responsibly and sustainably. Volunteer abroad tourism has flourished in recent years as individuals and groups are looking for a more meaningful way to spend their vacations. It’s an incredible opportunity to have a culturally immersive travel experience, living and working alongside local communities to achieve outcomes that matter to them. For those who are itching to see the world and experience alternative ways of living, there’s no better choice than to volunteer abroad.
There are a whole host of different projects to work on, from building houses and schools to working on conservation programs and helping those who are socially disadvantaged. It’s important to travel with a volunteer abroad organization that respects the local community and has a proven track record of bringing about positive change, rather than operating for their own financial benefits.
Learn a New Language
If you’re trying to learn a new language, what better way to hone your skills than during a volunteer abroad placement. Rather than attending lessons once a week or learning online, you’ll be completely immersed in your new language and discover how it has been influenced by the history and culture of the region.
It’s no secret that people master a new language much faster when they are really exposed to it and to help facilitate this, some volunteer abroad organizations will even offer an introductory lesson in the local language during your orientation. While they will always ensure you have an English-speaking team leader or contact on the ground, chances are the local community will converse in their own language. This will give you plenty of opportunities to practice on a daily basis and learn from your mistakes in a supportive environment.
Boost your Career Options
For many people, the reason they initially want to volunteer is connected with a desire to find their dream job in the future. Volunteering is a great way to boost your resume and career options, as it’s held in high esteem by most potential employers. It shows that you are committed to a particular cause and are willing to give of your own time to help others.
Perhaps you want to volunteer to develop particular skills that are associated with your chosen field of study or just get “real world” experience. Young professionals and students often find that volunteering opens their doors to a whole range of different opportunities that will give them a “leg up” when they are up against other job candidates.
Maintain a Healthy Mind and Body
Studies have shown that those who opt to volunteer lead happier and healthier lives, with volunteering being just as beneficial as exercising and eating well. While many people who volunteer are in their retirement years (with more time on their hands), most start volunteering early in life and it is thought that this supports their psychological well-being and physical functioning.
So if you want to live a long and fulfilling life, there’s no better time to start volunteering than now!
Find a Sense of Purpose
While it’s not clear what exactly it is about volunteering that contributes to better health, it’s believed to be associated with the sense of purpose it gives people. Choosing to work on issues you feel strongly about without being paid for it is an admirable step in making the world a better place and transforming your own life.
For those seeking inspiration, volunteering abroad can be a great path to follow as it helps you get out of your old routine. Take a break and put your life in perspective to figure out what is really important to you. You’ll return from volunteering feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to tackle whatever life throws your way.
Combat Isolation and Loneliness
Studies show that in our digital age of ultra connectivity, people are becoming more isolated than ever and loneliness is at an all time high. It seems that while online connections can help to maintain existing relationships and stay in touch, they are not very good in helping to establish long-lasting friendships.
Volunteering is a great way to meet with and work alongside other like-minded individuals within a supportive, community atmosphere. This often leads to strong relationships that are built on mutual interests and a desire to help others. If you opt to volunteer alongside other members of your family, it can help to strengthen bonds, while children who volunteer with their parents are more likely to become socially minded individuals who will volunteer well into the future.