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Studying, Living, Working, Volunteering Abroad, Expats Currently or planning on studying abroad, living abroad, working abroad, and volunteering abroad. Expats talk for all of you Huck Finn's out there. You rebels with a without a cause. Summer travel is child's play to you.

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Old 07-14-2006, 08:23 AM   #1
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Hi everyone! First post! Iíve just finished uni (and donít want to start working yet!), and Iím considering my options. Iím thinking about doing some volunteering overseas, and was wondering what your reasons were for wanting to volunteer instead of going on a Ďnormalí holiday. Any info/advice would be great, thanks!
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Old 07-14-2006, 08:31 AM   #2
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I volunteer at home and also try when on my travels, although lately my trips have been short.

I'm heading to Guatemala in June 2007 to volunteer there for a year. Lately I haven't traveled for long enough periods of time, nor had the $$ to pay for some of these companies that plan volunteer trips.

There's a lot of reasons I volunteer. The main reason is that I figure I've only got 60-100 years of life so why not help others inprove their lives. If I can make one kid smile then I know they may remember that moment for the rest of their lives. For example, I volunteer with special needs children once a week. I help them with horse back riding and whenever one of the kids remember to keep their heels down or hold the reins correctly it means they're making progress - and to me thats the biggest reward I can get.
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Old 07-16-2006, 10:29 PM   #3
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Volunteering in another country is also a fantastic way to experience life there. In Lithuania I worked with women who were dealing with alcoholism, poverty, broken homes, abusive relationships, single parenthood (most all of the above) and was really touched by their courage and strength and the friendship they offered to an outsider like me. I learned a lot about the social issues and politics that I wouldn't have learned by hanging out with other expats.

Trying to follow their conversations was great for my language skills, too!

While I still lived in Vancouver, I volunteered at a seafarer's mission and learned a colossal amount about the difficult lives of the people who bring us our creature comforts and made some great friends. Last time I was in Poland, I was lucky enough to introduce my family to two of these old friends.

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Old 07-17-2006, 11:40 PM   #4
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I would really like to vollunteer on my trip next year, but i don't have the thousands of dollars these companies are asking for to sign up with them... Does anyone have any other ideas of how I could find places to vollunteer without paying big money to do so?
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Old 07-18-2006, 12:33 AM   #5
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I guess a lot of times you have to pay to volunteer because the project where you work becomes responsible for your housing and food. If you plan on staying a while in a place and just want to help out in the community, there are still plenty of places you can volunteer - orphanages, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and whatnot. Often these are church-based programmes, especially in eastern Europe where the government doesn't necessarily have the income to support social programmes. In Lithuania I volunteered at Caritas, and occasionally at the Sisters of Charity's soup kitchen. Check out Caritas' website for the places you're planning to go, to get an idea of the programmes they offer there. Also, contact your own church if you have one, to see if they know of any programmes in the area. If you happen upon a church or convent in your travels, and find someone you can talk with, ask them what you can do to help. We had a great long discussion with a priest at a church in Prague, and he told us all about the programme they run in Mauritania. Ask about soup kitchens at tourism offices, then head down there and offer to help. You don't have to speak the language to put soup in a bowl or clear a table.

Another great source of info is the expat community. Many major cities have Women's Associations which are typically made up of the spouses of diplomats and expat businessmen, as well as businesswomen (both foreign and local), journalists, missionaries, teachers at int'l schools and the like.

In my limited experience (I'm not a women's group joiner, typically), these organizations tend to have quite a variety of members, and do a LOT of volunteer work in the community. The one in Vilnius helps out at orphanages and children's homes, homeless shelters, holds benefits for the Roma community and women's shelters, and helps support a community self-improvement project for a small village suffering from terrible economic and social problems.

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Old 07-18-2006, 02:36 AM   #6
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I came across this website last week www.volunteer-nepal.org they start at $150 depending on what programme you do. You stay with a local family rebuilding schools and other essential buildings. I'm considering doing it but I'd probably need to make sure I'm fit before I go so I know I won't have any trouble doing the work in that heat.
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