A passion for service and people goes beyond borders of your home country and so can you.
Volunteering abroad is a way to not only experience full cultural emersion, but to also make an impact serving others globally; However, various community service abroad programs can also come with a hefty price tag, costing thousands of dollars for only a few weeks. Often programs with these big price tags are for-profit groups and while the work they do is always helpful, it can often be more of a problematic tourist experience than a service.
Don’t worry, though. The programs below not only make service abroad affordable and accessible but also less like tourism and more like social change.
Peace Corps (Free)
-Living allowance and healthcare coverage
-Loan deferment and graduate school opportunities
-Paid vacation days
-Most placements require four-year degree
The Peace Corps is U.S. government sponsored volunteer program with the mission to “promote world peace and friendship” through service. Volunteers serve a 27 month commitment that including training in a country selected for them by the program based mostly on need and any special skills a volunteer has. Almost 50 percent of people serve in Africa and 20 percent are assigned to projects in South America. Assignment topics all vary but can include fighting food insecurity, promoting health programs or working as an educator in schools.
Volunteers must be 18-years-old and while relevant work experience can be considered, four-year degrees are required for most placements. But unlike for-profit volunteer abroad programs the Peace Corps comes with various benefits like medical/dental coverage, monthly living allowance, paid vacation days, graduate school opportunities, loan deferment and no participation fees among many others. For more information go to www.peacecorps.gov.
-Accommodation and meals covered
-Learning hands-on skills about organic farming
-You can practically go anywhere in the world!
-Travel cost is not included
WWOOF began as the organization Working Weekends On Organic Farms until it started going far beyond the weekend. With organized WWOOF sites in over 100 countries, it’s easy to find an opportunity almost anywhere in the world (and in the United States) to volunteer on an organic farm. Each opportunity is completely different and project depending on the need of the host farm. Some farms are looking for people to stay a couple of days or a couple of months. There is no standard way to go WWOOFing (as it’s called), just be prepared to get your hands dirty and become one with nature.
It is also incredibly easy to start looking into WWOOFing opportunities. You start by purchasing a membership to the WWOOF country website you are interested in (between 0 and 72 dollars). Once you are a member you can search all the opportunities and start contacting farms and making arrangements. While you pay for your travel expenses to and from the form as well as extra toiletries or trips you may take, the 4-6 hours you work a day are exchange for free housing and a days worth of food. The great thing about WWOOFing is that each countries age restrictions are different. The minimum requirement in some countries, like Japan, is 16 years of age. Other countries don’t have requirements at all and leave the decision to the host farm. Learn more at www.wwoofinternational.org.
AIESEC ($2000+ from travel expenses)
-Housing and food often covered depending on the host country
-You become part of a large student and alumni network
-Application fee, acceptance fee and travel not included
AIESEC is a global network run by students and recent higher education graduates to help facilitate meaningful leadership and volunteer experiences abroad for students. By working with a closest local chapter (often on university campuses) or city committee (there is one for Miami, Fla.), students can apply for the Global Volunteering Program. In the program they work on issue-based projects while learning how to project manage and explore intensive cultural immersion.
AIESEC prides itself on being accessible to students. Housing and food is often included, but airfare often is not. Application fees can vary by country. These volunteer opportunities at 6 to 8 weeks. Go to www.aiesec.org for more information.
Written by Josey Herrera