Ask any volunteer and they’ll probably tell you how fulfilling their trip was. You might even hear words like, “I can’t wait to come back” or “There’s nothing like it!”. Volunteering abroad is undoubtedly rewarding. However, there’s a possibility you will face challenges while volunteering abroad.
In fact, first-time volunteers may experience plenty of bumps along the way. It’s how you deal with these challenges that make the journey even more unforgettable.
If you’re joining our forthcoming service trip to Guatemala and Zimbabwe, then you’re in luck.
Below are effective ways to overcome challenges while volunteering abroad.
Opening up to strangers
Volunteering abroad means meeting a ton of new people. From your fellow volunteers to foreign communities, a coy person may find communication a challenge. Don’t fret. Opening up doesn’t have to stop you from making the most out of this journey.
There will be plenty of orientations prior to onsite action. You’ll have enough time to get to know your fellow volunteers as well as your leaders. Soon, you’ll be comfortable enough to express your thoughts and work with them harmoniously.
Do you have dietary restrictions? If you do, then you have challenges while volunteering abroad. Having dietary restrictions in a foreign country could make it hard for you to eat properly. The last thing you want is getting hospitalized in a place wherein medical facilities are lacking.
Be sure to prepare yourself for the trip. Learn a few basic words to address where you can find vegetables in your area. Find out where are the nearest hospitals. Bring personal snacks that may not be available in the area. Most of all, prepare yourself physically. Start eating healthier, get in shape and be kind to yourself. Get some rest if the work is taking a toll on your body.
Being away for a long time could make you miss your family. You could also end up missing the comforts of your home, along with friends you left behind. It’s a natural thing to feel but there are ways to overcome it.
The people you’re serving with can easily become your family away from yours. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them. From listening to their stories to fulfilling tasks, you’ll be in it together. It won’t be long until you start growing with them as well. Plus, reminding yourself of the higher purpose as to why you’re volunteering can help. After all, your family and friends are proud of you.
Experiencing cultural differences is another challenge that comes with volunteering. There will be language barriers as well as ethnic, minority groups that are often misunderstood. Some practices may not also make any sense to you.
What’s important is to constantly understand and appreciate. Do enough research prior to your trip. What is normal to you may be offensive to the local community. It will also help if you learn a few words. This way, you won’t feel too disconnected.
Keep an open mind above all else. This is a completely new experience that will require plenty of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual preparation. The rewards, though, are immeasurable.