This is a learning opportunity, and must be treated as such. It is important that travelers be open minded and respectful.
Vancouver, BC (PRWEB) April 30, 2014
Many responsible travelers want to lend a helping hand during their trip abroad. The idea is very appealing, but some may not realize what it actually entails or whether such an adventure would be a good fit for them. Some travelers may have the courage to step out of their comfort zone, but may not be adaptable enough to have a successful experience. CrossContinental.org recently released some informative tips to help responsible travelers prepare for their adventure abroad.
- Understand Your Goals
It goes without saying that every volunteer wants to help, but usually the choice to volunteer is not entirely a selfless act. Volunteering abroad exposes travelers to new ideas and cultures, while allowing them to learn new skills and grow both spiritually and emotionally. Some may even take it for school credit.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to gain something from the experience. Perhaps it’s an impulse to make a difference or see the world through another culture's eyes. Perhaps there is a more practical reason for educational purposes or career benefits. Understanding the motivation behind the desire to volunteer abroad will allow travelers to choose the right program and get better prepared for their experience ahead.
- Choose the Right Organization
There are hundreds of volunteer organizations to choose from, and they can vary wildly in cost, flexibility, culture, and so forth. So it’s very important to understand their philosophy before making a choice. Why do they exist and for what purpose? Do you agree with their values? Visit the organization's website and go through the program information in great detail so as to avoid surprises later on.
- Seek Cultural Training and Prepare to Be Adaptable
One of the main appeals of volunteering abroad is that it allows travelers to experience a life different from their own. Such a change in cultural surrounding is likely to expose travelers to varied ways of thinking and acting. This is a learning opportunity, and must be treated as such. It is important that travelers be open minded, respectful, and non-judgemental when volunteering abroad so that they may fully appreciate the experience.
Culture shock can ruin a trip for even the most well intentioned traveller, so it is important to have the right mentality and prepare to be adaptable prior to arrival.
- Be Flexible and Sensitive to Other People's Needs
It is a team project and you are part of a team. There may be unexpected challenges and you may work with people who are very different from yourself. When things don't turn out as expected, stay positive and calm. Try to use your problem solving skills instead of just complaining about how your needs are not being met. Learn to be adaptable instead of expecting others to adapt to you.
- Be Cautious with Donations
While doing charitable work abroad, requests for donations are not uncommon. Those who are selfless with their time are often also selfless with their wallet, but responsible travelers should make sure the money is being spent where it should be. Whenever possible avoid giving cash donations and instead distribute needed items directly. This will ensure that your donation serves its purpose, rather than simply lining the administrator’s pockets.
- Don’t Expect to Change the World Overnight
Have realistic expectations. Host communities may have customs that are very different from your own. You will need to pace yourself according to their needs. Don't be overly upset if you can't stop child-beating in one day. Start a conversation in a respectful manner can touch lives and also let yourself be touched. You can still make a difference, no matter how small it is.
Access free resources or plan a life-changing trip at http://www.CrossContinental.org.
About Cross-Continental Solutions:
Cross-Continental Solutions provides flexible yet affordable intern abroad, volunteer abroad, cultural immersion, language study, and gap year programs. International internships are often taken for school credit. By living and working side by side with local people, participants gain an exceptional cross-cultural experience and the opportunity to make a difference. Covering a wide range of interests, opportunities are available in areas such as: Teaching, Healthcare, HIV work, Care-giving, Orphanage Work, Wildlife, Agriculture, Environmental Protection, Community Development, Business Coaching, Microfinance, Marketing, Journalism, Photography, Tourism, and more. Programs are available at many locations around the world, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America.