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What is international volunteerism?

So what is international volunteerism anyway? If you're a fan of straight-up definitions, it's simply volunteering in any country other than your own. Or, if you respond more to examples and narratives, it's traveling across borders to build homes, teach in schools, deliver medical supplies, count endangered species—you get the idea. Broadly speaking, it's volunteering your time, skills, and energy with any one of thousands of global organizations, issues, or causes, all to help make a difference in communities around the world.

How do people volunteer abroad? Many go with volunteer-sending organizations or programs—nonprofit, faith-based, for-profit, and government-supported—while others strike out on their own. Some combine volunteering with travel or study abroad; others travel specifically to volunteer. Like statistics? Click here to check out some of the links in our research section. Again, there really are thousands of ways for people to get involved internationally…

The bottom line seems to be that the world is growing smaller. In real time, we watch news and events around the globe, read one another's blogs, and chat at dusk on discussion forums with others who type at dawn. We see disasters happen and watch communities rebuild. The more we know, the more we want to get involved. And volunteering abroad is one of the ways that we can set out into the world to lend a hand, see for ourselves, learn, explore, and make a difference.

Keep reading to learn more about why you might consider international volunteering, where in the world people are volunteering, and what kinds of opportunities are available.