A recent article published by USA Today-College highlights the importance of truly grasping the value of volunteering abroad, and immersing oneself in a radically different culture.
The article begins by noting that today, many students are not only studying abroad, they are volunteering abroad. College students are using part of their college years to travel to a foreign nation, and become part of that community. Because of the rising number of students volunteering abroad, colleges and universities are hosting information sessions about this topic. The sessions often discuss the different volunteer abroad organizations and the value associated with volunteering abroad. Some of these sessions also note the required planning and challenges that must be addressed before going abroad.
Many college students “choose to volunteer abroad through alternative break programs that promote the idea of substance-free spring and winter breaks.” the volunteer abroad trips, which range from a week to a semester, are organized by different organizations or organizations’ university chapters. Often, the volunteer trips attract students from different colleges, with a wide array of backgrounds. Together, they arrive in a different community and contribute to its development.
The article notes that some students ‘fall in love’ with their volunteer abroad experience, and want to continuously contribute to that community. For example, a former student at University of Maryland, cited in the article, “spent his college years going to Honduras to build homes and schools…after graduation, he traveled back to Honduras for a seven-week volunteer trip and helped with development of an online merchandise store.” These efforts, and others like it, further establish why volunteering abroad should be an essential component of one’s college years.
In fact, the article goes on to say, that “volunteering abroad has become especially popular with students who do not have the time to study abroad for an entire semester.” Thus, the opportunities are there for students to volunteer abroad, immerse themselves in a different culture and community, and gain a wider perspective on the world.