Tag Archives: international

Volunteering Overseas (Practical Tips & Advice)

9 Dec

Whether you’re volunteering for a day, for a week, or for months, volunteering overseas can be incredible part of your journey.  But be mindful of where you go and what your intentions are.  No one likes a “disaster tourist,”  and it’s important to match your skills and experience to an organization.  And creativity counts (see below)   


Take your circus skills to rural India! 

Paid-volunteer Trips

Yes, when I was 19, I participated in a volunteer trip in Ecuador (where I had to pay $) , and found the experience to be less than desirable.  If you feel in need of a safety net when you move to a country, yes paid-volunteer trips are a great resource to help you learn the country and meet people.  However, if you’re an experienced traveler, you shouldn’t need these resources and you can take advantage of cheaper resources: CouchSurfing, etc. 


It varies by volunteer organization (and it’s worth getting testimonials from past volunteers before you commit), but a lot o the money goes to their administrative costs, not to their programs.   To bypass this try emailing organizations directly.  


Before I moved to India, I emailed several organizations to try and find a volunteer/internship experience in New Delhi.  And I got several responses, including from WWF- India.  While I choose to work for a different organization, a small education non-profit, I learned that it’s much easier to by pass the administrative hurdle by emailing people directly and telling them your skills, when you will be there, what you can do for them, and what type of experience you’re looking for.  You will be pleasantly surprised how responsive people are. 


Volunteer helps you see what most do not.  Right behind the most beautiful building in the world, is the Yamuna River, so full of pollution it has become sludge.  

Go When & Where You’re Needed.

The United Nations has a volunteer program set up to help you do just that.    You can put in your skills and countries you’re interested in working with.  Assignments require flexibility, and you don’t know when you will get one or where you will be asked to go.   It could be more than six months after you applied.   However, this is a great way to get a step into the UN.  Volunteers are paid (stipend salaries & flights), so you will not have to pay for your experience.   It’s worth keeping your name and resume up to date in their database- you never know what the future holds!


Other Volunteer Opportunities:


I discuss AJWS elsewhere, but you will be matched with an NGO and will be considered an employee, not a volunteer.  But unlike most ex-pat employees who are paid in US $, you’re paid in rupees.  But there’s a great language training associated with the program. 




Have you volunteered overseas? What programs/organizations do you recommend?