Looking to do good on a broader scale? Want to make a difference worldwide? Linking travel to volunteering not only exposes you to new cultures and perspectives—it’s also an ideal opportunity to give back at the same time.
Whether you’re taking time to volunteer during a planned vacation or traveling specifically to help others, volunteering internationally allows you to see more of the world while lending a hand, extending your impact in the process. Create the Good has compiled these tips to give you a preliminary look into the international volunteer process.
Start with a trusted source
Traveling to new places can be daunting. You may not be familiar with the customs, speak the language or know anybody else at first! But traveling with the purpose of giving back can open up many opportunities to connect. That’s why it’s important to organize your international volunteering through a reputable and reliable resource.
AARP’s Office of International Affairs is a great place to start. This office serves as the global ambassador of AARP, collaborating with governments, businesses, NGOs and academics to facilitate dialogue on health and economic security, global aging and other related issues. And it’s a great source to use to connect with trusted international sources.
There may also be opportunities to volunteer directly with the AARP International team in New York City and elsewhere. These volunteers cover a lot of ground, engaging with diplomatic leaders, community organizers and local citizens. Contact AARP International to find out more about how you can get out and do the most good abroad. Depending on your skill set, one AARP opportunity to explore, is the AARP/IESC China Experts Program, a new volunteer program based in China to advise Chinese organizations on global bst practices and standards.
Give back while kicking back
Beaches, mountains, camping, cruises—these are some common elements of vacations today. But they don’t have to be the only elements. Try adding volunteering to your next trip!
If want to add some good to your vacation or journey overseas, than one of the newest volunteering trends might be perfect for you. Voluntourism allows you to give back for a day, a month or an entire summer—you decide! It’s an increasingly popular type of trip that combines your personal vacation time with opportunities to give back in your destination’s community.
When planned well, voluntourism benefits everyone: You get a little break from the every day routine, and a community benefits from your helping hands. Several organizations can provide you with more voluntourism information, including factors, destinations and ideas to consider, as well as actually arranging your volunteer placement.
Extend your stay
Global volunteering doesn’t have to be a one-time or temporary experience. Several international organizations offer ways to give back for longer periods of time—extended or recurring—giving you more time to get involved in a community.
HelpAge International works for older adults’ rights globally, fighting poverty, discrimination and other limiting issues. Working across more than 65 countries, HelpAge collaborates with a network of more than 280 organizations, so there are plenty of inspiring opportunities to fit your interests, timeline and program duration.
The well-known global volunteer organization the Peace Corps trains and places volunteers in more than 60 countries for terms of two years. These volunteers work in their host countries across an array of areas, from education and environmental work to agriculture and economic development.
A lesser-known Peace Corps opportunity: shorter-term stays. The Peace Corps offers these shorter opportunities for repeat volunteers, professionals with more than 10 years of work experience, healthcare professionals and students pursuing master’s degrees. Similarly, the United Nations Volunteers, which promotes peace and development worldwide through volunteerism, offers both short-term opportunities and yearlong ones.
Destination: Create the Good
Across the world or across the street, wherever you get out and give back makes a difference. Use Create the Good as your guide—get inspired by articles and ideas and search through our list of volunteer opportunities to find a great one near you.
Get in on Global Good
Resources abound when it comes to researching international volunteer opportunities. Here are a few other online places to get started:
- GoAbroad.com combines opportunities to study, teach and volunteer abroad—and even has an “online advisor” to help match you with the right program.
- The Global Volunteer Network focuses on community projects worldwide and includes summer programs and programs for youth.
- World Volunteer Web gives you the chance to search across sector, issue or country to find the perfect match.
- Global Service Corps put on volunteer vacations in Asia and Africa, and they even have an opportunity section specifically for retirees and baby boomers.