4 Things to Consider Before Volunteering Abroad
The decision to volunteer abroad is a big step. Before you make your decision, there are some measures you can take to ensure an enriching experience for both yourself as a volunteer and your host. While you can’t anticipate everything, the best way to be prepared is to ask yourself a few frank questions.
1.Personal motivation – A medical mission isn’t just a trip; it’s foremost an opportunity to teach and to heal. Are your reasons for volunteering clear and genuine? Ask yourself questions like:
- Why am I doing this?
- Why am I choosing this country?
- Am I prepared to be less comfortable?
- Am I willing to learn with humility?
- Are there stereotypes or misconceptions I am ready to release?
2. Practical preparation – Once you’ve reflected on your motivations and decided to proceed with the process, the next step is to think about practical preparations. The first few things to consider are:
- When can I make the time to go?
- What commitments while I miss while I am away?
- What country am I going to, and what is required for entry?
- Do I know the language? If not, what can I learn?
- How can I prepare to show respect to my hosts?
3. Identify the right organization – Amidst the world’s pain and suffering, there are many organizations that seek to provide treatment. The difficulty isn’t finding an organization to volunteer with- it’s finding the right one for you. Thinking about your personal motivations and goals is a good place to start. Other questions to ask:
- Where is this organization based?
- Where are other volunteers coming from?
- What does their approach to the medical mission look like?
- Do they have opportunities that match my skills?
4. Personal goals – It may also be helpful to think about your own goals as you research different organizations. Here are some questions to guide your thinking:
- What can I learn from this experience? Will this be my first close-up look at the medical field or am I gaining practical experience?
- In what way do I want to help?
- How do I want to serve this particular community?
- How do I want to learn from this particular community?
After working through these questions, we hope you’ll consider joining our team. We’re still in the planning stages for 2021 missions, but volunteers are always welcome to apply all year ‘round. In the meantime, you can also learn more about our organization’s core tenants and objectives here.