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Why international volunteering?

We hear a lot about the benefits of volunteering: the opportunity to give back, learning new skills and collecting diverse experiences, expanding our personal and professional networks; research has even identified physical and mental health benefits to altruistic behaviors. Whether you volunteer in your community or one across the globe, you can help make a difference, plus receive a myriad of personal and professional benefits.

So given that, and with all the needs already identified in our own backyards, why volunteer in another country? Here are a few reasons to consider:

  • The sheer adventure of it: Escaping the concrete jungle for one of broad leaves and warm rain, living perhaps more simply than one does at home.
  • Cultural curiosity: Interacting with fellow citizens around the globe, working side by side towards shared ideals and cultural understanding, seeing a new place as a temporary resident rather than a tourist, coming as close as we can to walking in someone else's shoes.
  • Civilian ambassadors: Improving relationships among nations and cultures through informal diplomacy, advancing cultural competency.
  • Taking a break from our lives: Something new, something challenging.
  • Time for a career shift: Giving back while figuring out next professional steps, learning new skills and garnering perspective and context for your career path.
  • Walking the talk on a global scale: Doing in support of a cause, a belief, an organization, a shared human existence.
  • Connecting service to learning: Learning a language, experiencing firsthand what one has discovered in books, learned in class, seen on TV, read in blogs.
  • Launching a career in international aid and development: Gathering experience and expanding professional networks towards building a career in the field.
  • Shared faith: Honoring the ideals of one's faith community.
  • Personal development: Taking time to think and explore, learn a new language, develop a new skill set, make new friends from around the globe.
  • In pursuit of a global skill bank: Offering your expertise in exchange for that of others—both local and foreign, swapping experiences and know-how.

And finally:

  • Building schools and digging wells because they're needed: Simply to make a difference however you can, wherever you can. It's what we do. We show up, giving body and soul, mind and spirit to issues, causes, and projects that we care about—now more than ever, not just in our own cities, schools, and neighborhoods.

Keep reading to learn more about where in the world people are volunteering and what kinds of opportunities are available.

NOTE: The link in the first paragraph should go to the research section of the Resources page.