After finishing school, a gap year is always a promising start for an introduction into the real working world. It is a year to really clear your head, think about what you want to do- and travel! Many people do different things during this year. Some simply travel around, seeing the world. Others work for the year, to build their pocketbook. Some of the most interesting and rewarding things done though, are done through volunteering opportunities overseas.
You get to help people! This in itself is an incredible achievement to say that you know for certain that you are actually making a difference in the world. But, on top of that, you’ll be in a country that you may not have seen and experienced before. You will be exposed to a new culture, perhaps a new language, and more than likely you will learn some new skills along the way as well. All of this can help build a resume and make you more marketable in the employment industry if you’re thinking about your experience pragmatically, but on a wider level you’ll grow as a person. Also, travelling alone can be a very daunting task. If you decide to travel alone for your Gap year, you may find yourself in a country where you don’t speak the language and get into some trouble, or may cut your journey short because you don’t feel comfortable travelling alone anymore. With any groups that volunteer abroad, you are doing just that: travelling in a group and benefiting from all that comes with that.
Typically volunteer groups visit countries like Tanzania, India, Ghana, Guatemala, Thailand, South Africa, and Costa Rica, with many others as well. Most countries will have more than one place to work, depending on what you want to work with. It’s also incredibly important to work out what cause you’re most passionate about, whether it be HIV and AIDS awareness, children’s education, women’s rights, or housing issues, just to name a few there is so much you’ll be able to do to make a difference.
If none of the above appeal to you there are plenty of other schemes like teaching English, conservation projects and archaeology. Prices will vary depending on the trip.
Cost. Cost is always a factor when travelling abroad, for volunteering or not. The organizations that run the trips are not completely philanthropic, and cannot support the cost of travelling all on their own. With thousands of people travelling, that adds up to millions of pounds of cost in flights and meals and places to stay. However, many organizations have ways for you to finance your trip such as fund raising ideas or places you can go to get bursaries. They also often suggest soliciting any groups you are a part of for funding. Groups like this could include church groups, sports teams, or and community groups. These trips are meant to be about working towards something better, and so they generally try to minimize the costs that a person would accrue working on their trip.
In conclusion, you can see how wonderful and enriching the experience of volunteering abroad. It can open your eyes to the problems of the world first hand, it can give you a sense of knowing that you have changed the world! It can add something special to your resume too. It is certainly something to serious to consider for your gap year.
Cross Cultural Solutions http://www.crossculturalsolutions.org/
Project Abroad http://www.projects-abroad.ca/