For many, volunteering abroad is a life changing experience. The ability to travel, to see the world, and to absorb various cultures offers an array of benefits, not only in your personal life, but in your professional life as well.
When considering an animal volunteering trip, you might ask yourself: do I have the guts? Truthfully, it’s totally normal to feel nervous about volunteering, especially when in a different country. The location is unknown, luxuries may be left behind, and the notion of sharing close quarters with strangers can be intimidating. Remind yourself why you wanted to volunteer in the first place. Unknown locations become new adventures; no luxuries mean unplugging from social media and getting to know real life again; and that ‘bunch of strangers’ that you’re so concerned about, will become lifelong friends.
Make no mistake: volunteering trips are not without their trials. You may witness examples of sheer cruelty – to see impoverished children in third world countries can be heart-breaking, and witnessing the plight of endangered animals can be distressing. But these things offer lessons. You’ll learn patience, understanding and compassion, and that’s something that will stay with you for life.
It’s no secret that volunteer experience looks fantastic on your CV. Not only will potential employers be impressed by the skillsets obtained on your adventures, but an ability to travel solo (and your time spent helping others) tick major boxes in terms of employability.
Whilst on your volunteering trip, it’s more than likely that you’ll be expected to work in groups. It’s in these moments where you’ll learn true teamwork (as well as cultural awareness and understanding), and the ways in which you cope could carve out future career paths. Certainly, when looking at working as part of a team or even aiming towards a more managerial position, real-life examples will work in your favour, providing a reference point for your prospective employer.
Mental and physical benefits
Whether you want to spend your life caring for others, or whether you’re looking for an escape from the norm, a volunteering experience is a brilliant choice. There are numerous mental and physical benefits to volunteering - but to truly understand them, you will need to experience them for yourself. Many volunteers report experiencing a sense of fulfilment after taking part in this sort of activity, and gives them a sense of pride in their achievements.
Bearing in mind all the benefits outlined above, it’s clear that volunteering holidays can change your life for the better - so why not think about incorporating some volunteer activity on your next trip abroad?
This post was contributed by Connor Whelan from The Great Projects, which is an organisation that sends volunteers to work with endangered animals abroad. Connor enjoys (perhaps obviously) travel, reading, and has an unfortunate affinity for West Ham United!