Stepping Up to Be a Global Volunteer: Why & Who?

Volunteer work, Peru

Painting the schoolyard wall with the children and staff, as part of Global Volunteers, 2015.

It’s a good question . . . Why volunteer time, energy and money to work in a totally different country with all its risks and unknown challenges? And who would even want to do that anyway?First, the question of “why” . . . although the answer is different for everyone, it almost always gets back to a strong sense of wanting to be part of something bigger than just ourselves – to find meaning and purpose in our own individual efforts. It’s that spark – that hope that each of us in some small way can contribute to making the world just a little better for others.

Second, is the “who” . . . who takes on these kinds of challenges? Our work in Peru was intense but relatively easy compared to the tough Peace Corp assignments, Doctors Without Borders or other similar humanitarian efforts around the world today.

In Peru, making schoolyard wall handprints.

Making handprints for the schoolyard wall, with Global Volunteers, 2015

Now what about you? At this time in your life, are you thinking (and maybe even excited) about stepping up to this kind of experience? It takes a lot of planning, preparation and can cost significant money as well as time away from work and family commitments. Are you ready for that kind of adventure and challenge?

If so, here are five excellent more personal questions to honestly ask yourself before raising your hand and submitting your application.

  1. What are my expectations of this experience and are they realistic?
  2. Am I physically and emotionally healthy enough for this experience and possible risks?
  3. Am I truly open and receptive to learning and appreciating a new culture/way of life?
  4. Am I really flexible regarding time schedules, new foods, different personalities (on the team), work responsibilities etc?
  5. Do I have a love of people and a sense of humor!

There are many other criteria to honestly see if global volunteerism is for you at this time in your life. Be honest with yourself – this may be a great time or perhaps not “yet”. Either way, it’s a delicious option!

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