How to Volunteer Overseas

Опубликовал Admin
2-03-2022, 20:50
Even if you don't have the two years plus required by the Peace Corps, you can volunteer internationally with as little as two weeks of vacation time. Volunteer programs are offered in every country, and people of all ages are encouraged to apply. Volunteers are needed for all types of work, including teaching, environmental and wildlife conservation, agricultural work, scientific research, and historical preservation. Overseas volunteering can be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of your life.

Method 1 of 3:Volunteering Overseas on a Short Term Project

  1. Consider a short-term volunteer program. These usually last from one week to three months, and almost everyone is invited to apply. These positions often charge a fee for the trip.
    • Short-term programs usually attack one specific project, so you will get to see the results of your labors when you leave.
  2. Decide what type of work you want to do. Consider your background and education, and the sort of things you enjoy doing. Choose a program that matches your particular skills and abilities.
    • Earthwatch organizes scientific expeditions to help scientists collect measurements and other vital data.
    • United Planet has programs in Peru involving healthcare and childcare.
    • Organizations such as EarthWatch and GVI (Global Vision International) offer opportunities to connect with nature.
    • Many programs offer experience teaching English as a second language. Some programs require a college degree or teaching experience; others will allow any native speaker to teach.
    • In the aftermath of a natural disaster, volunteer organizations like the Red Cross and Relief International send workers to help rebuild communities.
    • Because of the nature of these assignments, the work can be extremely stressful and emotionally taxing.
    • WIDECAST has programs in Latin America involving environmental conservation, farming, and monitoring endangered sea turtles.
  3. Find a program that you can afford. Most short-term overseas volunteer programs charge a fee to cover administrative costs, food, lodging, and ground transportation. The costs of different programs can vary greatly. For example:
    • The WIDECAST Latin America Program charges $315 for one week, or $430 for two weeks. This covers your in-country costs and training.
    • Global Volunteer Network has programs starting at $797 for two weeks, plus a $350 application fee. This covers Spanish lessons, internet access, airport pick-up, food, and lodging.
    • The Costa Rica projects at i-to-i will cost you $1,299 for two weeks. This covers food, lodging, airport shuttle, orientation, and training.
  4. Be prepared to pay for airfare. Nearly all programs require you to pay for your own airfare. How much this costs depends on where you live, and where you are going. For example, airfare from the US to Australia will run about $1,500; airfare from the US to Costa Rica will cost $500-700.
  5. Plan around your kids' school schedules. If you are applying to a program that allows you to bring your children, you'll need to arrange the trip to fit in with your kids' summer or winter breaks. A number of programs will allow you to bring your children for an additional fee.
    • International Volunteer HQ allows children under 18 to volunteer when accompanied by their legal guardian. Children under 15 are allowed to join programs with in-home (non-communal) accommodations.
  6. Try a recruiter. If you are having trouble finding the right overseas volunteer program, sign up with a recruitment or placement agency. You tell them what kind of work you want to do, and where you want to go, and they will find a good fit for you.
    • These agencies almost always charge a fee.
    • Because they are not directly affiliated with the organizations they work with, they may not know much about the work you'll be doing.
  7. Evaluate the organization you'll be working with. Do you agree with their philosophies and overall objectives? How effective are their volunteer projects in making real changes?
    • Ask to talk to other volunteers. Do they feel the project is making a difference? Does the organization treat its workers well?

Method 2 of 3:Volunteering Overseas for Longer Periods of Time

  1. Apply for a long-term volunteer assignment. Long-term programs are typically one to two years in duration, and admission can be very selective. These positions usually come with a small living allowance, and often require a college degree.
    • This type of project is typically on-going, so you might not see the end results by the time you leave.
    • Most programs require a college degree, professional experience, or specific skills.
    • Plan a “test run.” If you've never volunteered overseas before, you may want to do a short trip first and apply to a longer program for the following year.
  2. Start planning well in advance. Give yourself enough time to raise the money you might need and deal with logistics. You'll want at least 2-3 months to make plans and get everything together.
  3. Work with the United Nations. The UN has more than 4,000 volunteers at any given time, working in a range of job types all over the world. Workers are posted in mostly rural areas and on the outskirts of major cities. UN volunteer work falls into four main categories:
    • Working with small governments that are short-staffed in certain vital departments.
    • Helping communities become self-reliant by improving infrastructure.
    • Supporting human rights and peace-building initiatives.
    • Humanitarian projects to provide relief and hasten community rehabilitation.
  4. Join the Peace Corps. For over 50 years, the Peace Corps has sent volunteers all over the world, to work with local community leaders on different types of projects. Their field projects are designed to fight HIV/AIDS in developing nations, fighting hunger in impoverished communities, preserving the environment, and providing improved access to the internet and technology.
    • 94% of Peace Corps openings involve 2 years of service, plus 3 months of training beforehand.
    • Volunteer positions are open to any US citizen 18 years of age or older, who can leave the country within 9-12 months of being accepted.
    • The Peace Corps lists all their available openings online, where you can search by country, job type, or skill set.
    • 2-year volunteers receive free housing, a small monthly living stipend, and over $8,000 at the end of the project to help them readjust.
    • Some government issued student loans are eligible for deferment or forgiveness upon completion of a 2-year program.
    • The Peace Corps also covers your medical and dental expenses during the volunteer period.
  5. Sell unnecessary possessions. If you will be leaving for a longer period of time, you might want to get rid of unnecessary belongings. Place an ad on craigslist, or have a yard sale.
    • It costs money to store your belongings. Sell or give away any large items if you can, so you can rent a smaller, less expensive storage unit.
    • This will also give you more money for your trip.
  6. Find out if you need a visa. Most short-term volunteer programs do not require a visa, but some longer assignments will. It depends on which country you will be visiting. If you are paying for a short-term volunteer trip, the program facilitators will handle your visa paperwork.
    • For example, Australia requires a visa for short-term volunteers.
    • Costa Rica, Peru, the UK, and South Africa do no require a visa for short-term volunteers.
  7. Simplify your budget. Go through your monthly bills, and see if there are any services you can cancel. You'll want as few bills as possible when you are living abroad.

Method 3 of 3:Preparing to Volunteer Overseas

  1. Understand the environment you'll be working in. Before committing to an overseas project, find out exactly what your living arrangements will be, and decide whether this will work for you. Will you be staying in communal barracks, with hot running water and basic home comforts? Or will you be living in a tent, without the modern conveniences you are accustomed to?
    • It's okay if you don't think you'd do well living in extremely rough conditions. Just keep looking until you find the right program, where you can be useful and thrive.
  2. Purchase supplies. Once you have been admitted to a program and know what your living conditions will be, purchase any supplies you may need.
    • You'll need clothing appropriate to the work and the weather
    • You may want to bring camping or survival products
    • If you will be working outdoors, stock up on insect repellant
  3. Check your passport. Be sure the expiration date is good for the entire length of time you'll be out of the country plus 6 months. If you don't have a passport, you'll need to get one.
    • Apply early if you need to get a passport or have your old one renewed. It will take at least 6 weeks to get your passport, unless you pay a hefty fee to expedite handling times.
  4. Exchange your money. Once you know your destination, you'll need some local currency for the trip. Your local bank can usually arrange to exchange your US dollars for foreign money.
    • American Express travelers cheques are a good way to carry money while traveling. If they're lost or stolen, you can have them replaced.
  5. Handle your banking arrangements. If you're planning to volunteer abroad, it's a good idea to notify your bank and your credit card companies – otherwise, they may stop payment on your cards when they see international charges.
    • You'll also want extra cards, if possible, in case you lose one.
  6. Check travel alerts. Once you know where you'll be going, check online for travel advisories so you'll have a better idea of the area. The government issues warnings describing risks you may face.
    • Plan ahead – many vaccines need to be administered weeks or even months ahead of time.
  7. See your doctor. You'll probably need to have a physical exam before you volunteer overseas. Most programs require a doctor's note saying you are fit to travel and work.
  8. Get your shots. You'll need inoculations to prevent against common diseases that you may encounter on your travels. The type of shots you need depend on which area of the world you will be visiting.
    • Some countries won't let you enter without evidence of specific vaccines, such as yellow fever.
  9. Focus on the people you'll be helping. To encourage humility while volunteering, think about the people you will work with and ask yourself:
    • What knowledge and skills do the people from this community possess that I do not?
    • What life experiences do they have which are different from mine?
    • What are some of the obstacles they have had to overcome in their lives?
    • What challenges do they face daily that I do not?
    • What are some of their personal and professional strengths?
    • What can I learn from them?


  • Read the information sent to you thoroughly. Be sure you are completely familiar with the rules, the work you'll be doing, and what is expected of you.


  • Investigate any program before joining – some agencies have been criticized for mishandling of funds and other serious ethical problems.
  • Think carefully about whether you can cope with the living and working conditions.
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