Why Volunteer?

“Volunteering in Bolivia helped me simplify my life, strengthen my spirituality, and concretize my commitment to peace and justice”

-Renee Grogg, volunteer at an orphanage in La Paz Bolivia

People of all ages, backgrounds, income levels, and abilities have chosen to spend two weeks to three years of their lives volunteering in many different capacities on projects all over the world. Some examples of projects you can expect to find on the IVPA website include:

  • Constructing a school or clinic
  • Promoting healthcare in rural villages
  • Working with a women’s cooperative
  • Practicing sustainable agriculture
  • Teaching English
  • Protecting sea turtle habitats
  • Joining an architectural dig
  • Helping to renovate a castle or monastery
  • Developing small business enterprise
  • Supporting human rights efforts
  • …the possibilities are endless!

Why should you consider volunteering abroad? There are countless reasons why thousands of people volunteer abroad each year. You may start with a desire to travel, learn a new language, or meet new people. By volunteering, you’ll also have the opportunity to lend a hand to those who are working to improve life in their communities. Through your daily work and interactions with members of a local community, you’ll gain a better understanding of the culture, as well as the issues that affect that part of the world. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself, as you take on the challenge of living and working in a completely new environment.

Can you really make a difference? According to the authors of “Alternatives to the Peace Corps” (Food First Books), “While a volunteer may wish to feed the hungry, heal the sick, or house the homeless, these social and political problems are often more complex than they may seem. Thus, the volunteer’s most appropriate role is that of a student. Working abroad can better your understanding of the world and forces that keep people impoverished, and enhance your appreciation fo the richness of other cultures. For many, volunteer experiences mark the beginning of a lifelong commitment to ending poverty and hunger.”

International volunteers who were interviewed for the publication “How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas” had this to say about their experience volunteering abroad:

“I think it’s given me a greater opportunity to define who I am, to expand the way I view things, to see the world through other people’s eyes, and to incorporate my experiences into the way I think, live, and feel.”
Marlene Larocque, volunteer in Ecuador

“Volunteering gave me a new perspective on my own cultural values and assumptions. It made me more thoughtful about which ones I truly want to adopt.”
Tracy Hessel, volunteer in Latin America

“I spend the last year working for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as an International Program Analyst. I got this job because of my overseas experience, including working in a health setting with under-served populations, knowledge of foreign language, as well as a demonstrated leadership ability and maturity.”
Brenda Pierce, volunteer in Costa Rica

According to the book’s authors, “Volunteering abroad can be one of the most educational, inspiring, and exciting things you do in your life. Despite all the challenges, most volunteers we spoke with said that, given the opportunity, they would do it again. Living and working in another culture while donating your time and energy to do a worthwhile cause has great rewards and may enrich your life long after you return home.”