There’s no doubt about it: volunteering abroad changes you.
If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you’ve probably read why we think volunteer vacations are worth doing and paying for. But truthfully, it’s the intangible benefits that levy the heaviest impact.
Volunteering ignites an empathy and sensitivity to others that you may not have experienced before. You become a global citizen with a unique — and valuable — perspective on the world.
Which still matters when you return home. The United States is a melting pot of many cultures — so your perspective as a global citizen can lead to a deeper understanding of your home country.
Here are a few ways volunteering abroad can affect your overall view:
You Adopt Tolerance & Smash Ignorance
When you don’t understand someone else’s cultural norms, it’s easy to make assumptions.
At Discover Corps, our immersive trips are based on understanding the daily lives of locals. By seeing the world through their eyes, you start to grasp the joys, challenges, and obstacles they face.
It dawns on you that a developing community shouldn’t be measured by North American standards of progression — but that each country and culture encompasses their own unique characteristics.
Tolerance means knowing someone’s behaviors may not match yours, but still being able to respect and learn from them. These are valuable insights that will continue to inform your interactions once you return home.
[bctt tweet=”Tolerance = respecting + learning from other cultures #travel “]
You Discover Common Ground
Volunteering has innumerable benefits, but one of the biggest is discovering how much every person you encounter craves the same things you do.
Forging bridges of friendship with a person from another culture demonstrates that — even though their path to prosperity is different than yours — your common bond connects you universally to things like family, love, security, and contentment.
Whether you are sharing an evening meal together or working side-by-side on a community building project, you soon can recognize your similarities — and embrace your differences.
You Learn About Your Own Immigrant Communities
You might assume that being globally aware only applies to international travel — but we believe the real influence begins once you return home.
That’s because 41 million immigrants live in the U.S. Imagine how challenging it is for newly arrived families, trying to navigate a land and culture so distant from their own.
As a global citizen, you can. You, too, were once in an unfamiliar place depending on the kindness of others. Draw from your volunteer vacation experience to empathize with the immigrants in your immediate community.
Many of our travelers continue to volunteer well after one of our trips; consider spending time helping immigrants adjust by teaching English or simply being a friendly face.
You Become a Role Model
Though volunteering is sometimes seen as a personal goal, it’s really about shaping the planet into a just and sustainable place.
All the inspiring things you do have a ripple effect on others. You might only be sharing the lessons you learned from volunteering with your family, or visiting a local school to talk about your interesting trip to Cuba — but you could actually be helping to develop an entire group of conscious minded citizens. Cool, right?!
Volunteer abroad, and become a global citizen. Realize your power as an individual: you can change things abroad and at home, contributing to the greater good wherever you go.
[bctt tweet=”Volunteering abroad turns you into a global citizen + force for good –> “]
Do YOU think volunteering makes you a better citizen in your own country?