Volunteering abroad can be a life-changing experience. Away from the confining requirements of daily life, volunteers are able to try new things, experience foreign cultures and generally expand their horizons. To ensure the best possible experience, volunteers should carefully consider the type of placement that best suits them. Here are some ideas.
There are lots of bird species in need of help, and lots of opportunities for volunteers to help them. In Greece, the Alkyonis Wildlife Hospital
provides a resting place for wounded or tired migrating birds, and the chance for volunteers to care for them. In nearby Croatia, volunteers can help feed and nurture Griffon Vultures at a rescue centre on the Adriatic island of Cres.
Volunteering for a nursing role is possible for seasoned professionals as well as those with no experience. Working in clinics, hospitals, orphanages and care homes, nursing abroad
helps make a tangible contribution to people’s lives in frequently understaffed environments.
While they might not be everyone’s idea of the best way to spend time while abroad, volunteer business placements look great on the CV. Business internships allow volunteers to gain a first-hand understanding of how companies operate in other countries. Options include Cape Town in South Africa, Shanghai in China, Madurai in India, Chisinau in Moldova, and even Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia.
Like the explorers of old, volunteer archaeologists help unearth historical treasures. Organisations such as http://www.projects-abroad.ca
offer placements on sites such as the Sacred Valley of the Incas in Peru.
Organising a journalism placement gives volunteers the unique chance to delve into a country’s most interesting stories. Whether it’s working in print, radio or television, volunteers can learn the craft of journalism in a dynamic and interesting environment.
Native English speakers who have studied on a short Teach English as a Foreign Language course can find voluntary teaching placements around the world. Some of the most popular countries to teach in include South Korea, Czech Republic, Thailand, Japan, Saudi Arabia, China, Mexico, France, Brazil and Russia.
Coaching children and adults in sports is an intensely rewarding experience. Helping organise teams and then training them helps bring communities together and provides a distraction from some of the more negative aspects of daily life.
Getting involved with building work while abroad is physically demanding but extremely rewarding – whether it’s helping to build a family home for those who currently live in cardboard shelters, or assisting in the construction of a community school.
There are plenty of opportunities for helping nurture some of the planet’s most endangered animals. The Inti Wara Yassi rehabilitation centre in tropical Bolivia helps the victims of the illegal trade in exotic pets such as howler monkeys, lemurs, pumas, ocelots and jaguars. Alternatively, volunteering at the Xi’an Panda Centre allows visitors to assist with babysitting Giant panda cubs. In Kenya, volunteers at the Sweetwaters Research Centre help provide the food needed for nearly extinct black rhinos
Conservation volunteers are able to experience a country’s most beautiful landscapes. Whether it’s helping conserve a rare species of plant in South Africa or carrying out a survey of indigenous forest in Peru, volunteers will help to ensure the natural world remains intact.