Volunteer Abroad Programs – Volunteering abroad is one of the most gratifying and impactful experiences you’ll ever choose to get yourself involved in.
You get to see how every person consciously contributes to humanity and nature is essential to human rights and the longevity of life on this planet.
You’ll also return home with a newfound outlook on how to create and affect change every day in your own life and how to discern when your generous intentions may be detrimental.
If you want to give back to causes you care about and don’t know how to begin, you’ve come to the right place because we actually get you informed on how to go about applying for a volunteer abroad program.
When researching volunteer abroad opportunities, you’ll find every program has a list of requirements for prospective applicants. It is imperative to review this list carefully before submitting your application.
The most common requirements to volunteer overseas include:
- Age Minimum: Programs may have a minimum age of 18, but there are plenty of high school volunteer programs available. There are also volunteer programs aimed at more mature travelers too!
- Physical Ability: Some assignments may demand a higher degree of physical activity. If so, they will list it to ensure you can participate.
- Passport & Visas: In order to go abroad, you’ll need to be eligible for a passport in your home country and apply for visas as necessary.
- Language: If the assignment that caught your eye is in a country where English isn’t widely spoken, you may encounter a foreign language requirement.
- Field Experience: if your volunteer assignment requires professional skills (like medical work) you may be required to have six months to a few years of professional experience in order to be eligible for the program.
- A Good Attitude: while this may seem like a no-brainer, some volunteers forget this isn’t a vacation. You’ll have to be positive, adaptable, and willing to work hard.
One of the most important steps when traveling abroad is applying for and receiving a visa.
This process will vary greatly based on a number of factors, including which country you are traveling to, your home country, the length of time you will be traveling, etc. Most often, the type of visa you will need to volunteer abroad is a tourist visa.
The first step will be to visit the website for the embassy of the country you are headed to. Pay careful attention to what the requirements will be for you based on your home country.
In some rare cases, you may not need a visa at all. In those cases, just be sure to have an up to date passport to travel with.
In other cases, you may be eligible to apply for a visa online or to apply for a visa at the airport upon your arrival.
However, it is always a good idea to apply for and receive your visa before arrival if at all possible, to avoid any potential hassles or changes in policy.
Even if you do not plan to extend your stay, make sure to read the rules and regulations for visa extensions in case your plans end up changing once you are volunteering abroad.
Some countries have maximum lengths of time you can stay in the country per year, some countries allow you to extend your visa while in the country, while others will not allow this.
Often these requirements and regulations vary based on your own home country, so getting all the details before you travel will help you be prepared for all contingencies.
The visa application process can be as short as a few minutes or as long as a few weeks, depending on the country you are applying to. Bear this in mind and do apply early!
Once you’ve decided to volunteer abroad, there are a number of things you should look for to ensure you pick the right program for you.
With voluntourism thriving both ethically and unethically, you’ll want to take a deeper look at the company’s spending, reputation, project goals, and community involvement.
Instead of volunteering for roles that could’ve been filled by a local, or joining a company that has had a negative impact on local neighborhoods, seek sustainable initiatives that focus on longevity, community empowerment, and transparency.
Other information to look for when choosing a volunteer program include:
- Benefits included in the program fee
- Volunteer support available
- Specialized skills required
- History of effectiveness
Another important consideration you will need to prepare for while volunteering abroad is getting vaccinated. International travelers should always get the proper vaccines to protect themselves since their immune systems are not built up to protect against diseases in foreign countries.
Volunteers working at service projects abroad are at even greater risk for exposure to communicable diseases and should definitely receive all recommended vaccines prior to travel.
This is because you are often working in rural or impoverished areas and coming in contact with poor people who may have no access to reliable healthcare and will often not be vaccinated themselves.
You may be staying in areas with poor sanitary conditions, putting you at even more of a risk to contract water and foodborne illnesses which vaccines can help to protect you from.
When applying to volunteer abroad, applicants often wonder how long it will take before they receive a confirmation on being selected for the program.
It can be nerve-wracking to wait for the decision, especially if you have wanted to volunteer at a particular site for a long time!
However, you needn’t worry or wait too terribly long, as the selection process normally takes only between 1 and 4 weeks.
Some international volunteer abroad organizations have a screening process for their applicants, mostly aimed to check your criminal background.
This is an essential step for some volunteer programs, especially if you will be working with children and school kids, as protecting the safety and well-being of these vulnerable youth is extremely important.
Generally, most volunteers will be accepted into a program unless they have a serious criminal background.
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