For many people, living productively means doing good for others. If you feel the same and are at the point where your wanderlust has gotten overwhelming, consider combining your love of traveling with your desire to help others by volunteering abroad. The six ideas below should help you feel excited about what’s possible.
Learn From Organic Farmers
If you love being outdoors and want to learn more about what’s involved when farming organic crops, an organization called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) might be for you.
Generally, this involves between 4-6 hours of work on an organic farm per day, in exchange for food and accommodations. Because you actually live on the farms where you work, it gives you an authentic perspective of the livelihood of organic farmers. You may be involved with tasks ranging from composting to chopping wood.
Enroll in a Physician Shadowing Program
Maybe you’re seriously considering becoming a doctor or you’ve enrolled in pre-med coursework, but you want to gain some real-world experience before committing. In that case, an organization called Gap Medics allows you to go to locations like Tanzania and Poland to shadow doctors.
Programs are offered year-round and some are as short as one week. This is a good option to consider if you want to help, but have a busy schedule that doesn’t allow a several-month absence.
Many foreign countries, such as Asia and the Middle East, have a great demand for English teachers. You’re most competitive with a bachelor’s degree, along with an ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching qualification, such as a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). The CELTA is a commonly requested qualification in job postings, so if you want to broaden your options but aren’t sure where to teach, it’s a wise choice. Depending on your employer, you might get perks such as health insurance, housing and yearly trips back to your home country.
Search the Help Exchange (HelpX) Website
Started in 2001, Help Exchange, or HelpX, is an online database that connects people with hosts who need help and are willing to offer food and board in exchange. People work an average of four hours per day, and many go on outings as part of the deal. Because the exact nature of the experiences varies based on what the hosts need, you can never be sure of what to expect.
Go on a Missions Trip
International missions trips incorporate your religious background with your willingness to give back. It’s often possible to visit places where people haven’t been exposed to the basics of your religion or spiritual beliefs, while also doing something that fits with your schooling, interests or expertise. If you’re not picky, choose to go where the need is greatest or especially urgent. This option is also beneficial if you have flexibility to travel on short notice.
Give Specialized Advice to People in Developing Countries
The Financial Services Volunteer Corps is just one of several organizations that sends experts to developing countries to help residents gain a greater level of economic stability and knowledge. Since 1990, thousands of specialists from the regulatory, legal and finance industries have helped people obtain knowledge that equips them for the future.
Although some of these opportunities have small fees associated with them, you may be able to get connected with something that’s free. No matter where you decide to go, or what you do there, rest assured you’ll make an impact on the lives of others, as well as your own.