Volunteering can be extremely rewarding. Some people volunteer to make new friends and some do it to gain exposure to something they didn’t know existed. Some people look for greater immersion while others like the feeling of working towards something bigger than themselves.
If there’s something you’re passionate about, volunteering can get your foot in the door. For example, when I was abroad, my university had an Outer Space Society that was just starting up. I worked as a volunteer putting together events where experts in the field were invited to come and speak. These events often gathered 20 to 30 people and were a great way to build the community but they also aligned with my personal interests.
There are an overwhelming number of volunteer opportunities but finding opportunities can be tough unless you know where to look. My example came about because I looked within student life. You will find that many university clubs have some type of volunteering element.
You can also find opportunities from local newspapers and community centers or by researching local charities or community organizations online. Often, if an organization needs volunteers, they will reach out using these methods. For example, if you wanted to work with the environment you can research nearby wildlife reserves.
Such a cool experience to have while studying abroad. Photo taken by @tomasnocera while volunteering with a local organization to rehabilitate kangaroos and wombats so they can return to the wild. Tomas is a wildlife biology major studying abroad in Australia this semester. #TEANabroad #TEANtownsville
Many opportunities will even come by word-of-mouth in which case you can ask your friends or classmates who are activity in the community. You can ask your local TEAN staff member if they have any ideas or leads on opportunities, too.
Once you’ve figured out what kind of experience you’re looking for then all you have to do is contact someone already involved. Going abroad is the perfect time to explore your passions, so take advantage of the opportunity to pursue them through volunteering.
Dan Huber is a TEAN Alum and graduate of Stevens Institute of Technology. He studied abroad with TEAN in Sydney, Australia.