Why volunteer abroad? For much the same reasons you might choose to work abroad. You'll gain vital work experience and improve your foreign language abilities. You'll learn about another culture by living in it and working alsongside people from that culture, and in doing so you will learn more about yourself and your own culture. You will make friends, create an international network, and give something back.
There are many reasons to volunteer abroad and the rewards from doing so are even greater. On this page, we offer some tips as you begin looking for international volunteer opportunities and list a few programs that can assist you. Please note, however, that we do not endorse any of these programs: we simply offer them as a way for you to begin your research.
Many organizations can provide an opportunity for you to volunteer your time and skills abroad. You can volunteer with a local not-for-profit or religious group, can apply to a US-government based program like the Peace Corps, or work though an organization that can help you find a volunteer placement abroad.
Finding your own placement through a local organization offers you a chance to work with people you already know and with whom you feel comfortable, but can also be difficult and can require a lot more leg work on your part. Using a placement organization opens up greater possibilities, but will require that you pay some sort of fee to offset the cost of the services the organization provides. A few Web-based resources you might look at as you think about your options are:
The University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center -- An overview of "Things to Consider" when looking for volunteer opportunities
IVPA (International Volunteer Programs Association) -- An association of non-governmental organizations involved in international volunteer work and internship exchanges; they set forth good principles and practices that volunteer programs should follow.
ServeYourWorld -- Articles explaining how volunteer program fees are used
TransitionsAbroad -- Articles that explain the benefits of volunteering with an organization and where fees go
BUNAC (British Universities North American Club) -- Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Peru, Spain
Cross-Cultural Solutions -- Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand.
EarthWatch -- Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North and South America
Idealist.org -- A not-for-profit online organization that offers a searchable database of volunteer opportunities
Peace Corps -- 139 host countries worldwide
Proworld -- Belize, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Mexico, Morocco, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand
WorldTeach -- Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, Pacific Islands