Some Impactful Ways to Serve Abroad…and Locally! Our Thoughts on Serving Abroad Part 3

By Ria

Hey y’all! This week we are going to discuss different ways to serve locally and abroad (although there are issues to consider with every type of volunteer activity or service project-regardless of how big or small the work). 

If you haven’t gotten the chance to read about the differences between volunteering and serving, go check out Jake’s awesome summary on that concept. It is important to consider your true reasonings for wanting to spend time doing service work. 

Firstly…. Time for some “not-so-random Ria thoughts”: 

1. ALWAYS remember this when serving anywhere (and also in life and within all your relationships because this do be important y’all…..): INTENT vs IMPACT.

2. Your impact is just as important if not more than your intention. Remember the impact you will be making on others and your environment, and that every action has consequences whether those are positive or negative. Please sit and consider them before continuing along with your plans. 

3. I find it important to remember that sometimes monetary donations make more of a difference than your physical presence….maybe sit and think about that before spending energy going somewhere where you might be more of a burden than a help. 

Now that we have kept those words in mind…we can chat about how you all can get more involved in service work. Please research deeper into what some of these entail because I have only served abroad through school opportunities growing up! 

~I have also listed opportunities that incorporate more than just  “going to bring medical supplies to a foreign country and taking pictures to showcase the experience” kind of volunteer work. These encompass global issues that work toward a sustainable future and might have you sitting and contemplating your impact within these types of work!~ 

I am well aware there are millions more programs and efforts that you could participate in, but these provide quite a broad context of sectors you can support, which is a large reason I am mentioning the following ideas!  

  1. Schools (of all kinds and including various age levels) or Community Connections: 
    1. I think the best place to start looking for ways to volunteer within the local community or region you reside in is probably through groups available to you in the area. Maybe your parent or friend volunteers with a local group each week or you have connections in the community that can help you find volunteer work! Why not take advantage of making this effort in your community when access is most available!? Jake and I both got more involved in the concept of volunteering and serving abroad through our high schools. I fell in love with the idea of volunteering for my local community while applying to be in my high school’s volunteer club. I gained a number of local experiences and learned leadership skills, as well through this group. I highly suggest starting local especially because you will see the difference you are making very clearly at the local level. You might also be like Jake and get the opportunity to serve abroad as a highschool student if your school offers these sorts of opportunities. 

*** keep in mind the impact you will have if you participate. 

  1. Peace Corp: 
    1. *Disclaimer- this one is for U.S. citizens (but there might be an equivalent of this program for non-U.S. citizens so again do that research friends!) This program is rather intense, and you really have to be mentally prepared for a change of pace in life. This is a 2-year commitment (on top of a few months of training), and you must be at least 18 years of age to participate. This sort of program is probably best for those of you wanting to spend a large amount of time abroad. I know that a majority of participants are recent college (university) graduates and/or in the midst of a career change. The different sectors you can participate in include the following: agriculture, environment, education, youth in development, community economic development, and health. You can also work in a number of countries spanning North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa! Their website has a list of openings in certain countries and sectors, and there is an application process that is detailed out here, too! You can also get in touch with individuals within the program to get a good feel of what all you will be entering yourself into!

Jake and I both know some individuals who have gone through the program, so if you are sincerely interested, we can try to get y’all in touch with our connections! Please send an email or message 🙂 

  1. GVI: 
    1. This program is widespread and takes place in 13 countries across the globe. The most interesting aspect of this program is that it works to stay aligned with our 17 UN SDGs (if you don’t know about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals please look them up! So important friends! They are crucial to progressing toward a more sustainable planet for us and our environment; they also address poverty, the oceans, economy, and gender equality among other important issues surrounding sustainability). Participants can be from all across the globe, as well (yay!)! Taking responsibility for working toward sustainability within our planet is the main intention of this program and what they surround their work on! The projects that volunteers have the opportunity to participate in fall under these sectors: climate change, plastic pollution prevention, wildlife conservation, the environment, gender equality and women’s empowerment, education, childhood development, and global public health. As someone who believes focusing on a sustainable future is the key to solving our world’s largest problems, this sounds like an amazing way to get involved! Check out the link for more info:
  1. Remote Work: 
    1. Now more than ever, it might be best to consider doing some service work remotely. This concept is one that is new to me and maybe some of you, too! I say this because I know when many of us think about serving abroad or doing some local volunteer work for the community, we don’t really jump to the idea of doing work online…..but just because we do some work online doesn’t make it any less worthwhile. It might be different and more challenging to see the complete impact when results and the endgame isn’t directly in your sight, but this type of work has its benefits. Traveling domestically and internationally is quite restricted and/or maybe not so safe at the moment, so if you’re itching for a way to serve others or our environment, these links might be worth your time! 🙂 the UN is an example of a larger group that can guide you with work to do that doesn’t involve leaving your home! (YES this isn’t the “usual” type of volunteering you might be thinking of, but don’t knock it til ya try it!)

At such a difficult and changing time for the entire world, I feel it is important to consider ways in which we can assist our local communities. If assisting means doing some kind of service work over a computer to keep yourself and others safe, why not consider it? 

For future reference, if you are one who has a dream of serving abroad, please just be mindful and consider the number of points Jake and I have mentioned within the past few weeks (and more)! This can truly be one of the most impactful experiences…for you…but how much is it for the group you are wanting to aid? 

All the best to those of you wanting to serve in general! 

Remember once again:

  • Serve in a sustainable manner
  • Intent vs Impact
  • Why do you REALLY want to go? 
  • Can you help your local community before venturing abroad or falling into the “white-savior” trap?

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