Whether you are going to join a medical mission or teach students at a local school, there are endless opportunities to contribute your skills and knowledge to a local community through volunteer overseas projects. This is undoubtedly the new preferred method for traveling, especially for young folks, such as those who just graduated or are in their gap year. Traveling with a purpose is the drive behind volunteering for most.
However, a lot of volunteers are in for a shock at their first placement. Before you choose which Thailand travel and volunteer opportunities to choose, here are a few things you should know to prepare yourself.
Not Every Program is Right For You
You have probably heard this before but it bears repeating – you need to properly align your skills with your chosen volunteer overseas project. You need to assess your skills and compare it to the project. What can you bring to the table? Do not waste your time and expect to show up there without making an effort to contribute. It will be beneficial for you and for the community you are going to serve.
Don’t Use It To Get a Job
Sure, your stint as a volunteer in Thailand looks good in your resume but that won’t land you your dream job right away. You can establish your professional network but you must be there for the right reasons. After all, the life of a volunteer is not a cake walk!
You’ll Be in for a Culture Shock
When you sign up to volunteer Thailand projects, you might have an inkling that the culture and way of life is different from yours (especially if you are from the West). But nothing could ever prepare you for exactly how different life would be. You will also be forced to immerse into that way of life. The things you used to only see on TV will confront you in real life and some are even worse than you have anticipated.
Thinking You Can’t Change the World
Some volunteers think that they are just that – volunteers. But in order for a program to achieve its goal, you should do your part. Hence, your contribution no matter how small is valued by the community you are serving. This is one of the rare gestures to contribute selflessly to the community.
You’re Going to Miss It
Many volunteer projects take several months at a time. During that period of time, you will immerse into the culture of the local community and live the way locals do. Hence, you will miss the experience soon after you have completed you volunteer stint. You will probably miss it too and find some time to get adjusted back to your normal life afterwards.
The five pointers listed above should help prepare you and attain the right mindset before you embark on your journey to volunteer overseas. Despite the prestige of volunteering, it is a tough life out there and you need to be as prepared as possible. Use this opportunity to take what you have learned and prepare yourself financially, emotionally and mentally for what is to come.