Volunteering Abroad

Before coming to McGill, I lived in Asia. While I was there, I was a part of several volunteer groups through my school, most notability an after-school program that offered English classes to children from displaced communities. My experiences volunteering with these kids were some of the most rewarding and valuable ones from my time living there. Volunteering is often overlooked during the school year when students are busy with their courses and during the summer when students gravitate towards jobs and internships. However, volunteering is truly a remarkable experience, and doing so abroad is bound to be unforgettable.

The most important and beneficial aspect of volunteering abroad is that you’re helping people who may never be able to help you back and supporting causes that may not be as relevant back home. It’s genuine and sincere, and the time, effort, and energy you dedicate is wholehearted.

But volunteering far from home is also a chance to learn and grow as a person, too.

Like with all volunteering, it’s humbling. It changes the way you see yourself and the life you live. Volunteering abroad often means going to places where some communities may lack basic utilities, like clean water and electricity. You witness this first-hand and become more grateful and appreciative for the little things.

Volunteering away from home makes you more globally aware, as well. It’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world out there when day-to-day life mostly involves the same city. The world is in fact a very diverse, complex, beautiful place. There is so much to learn and you will come to see that there is much you don’t know – things that can’t be learned from classes or textbooks. Meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, trying new food, and conversing in another language will all increase your global awareness.

You also learn how to respond to and handle new challenges. Volunteering abroad, especially if it’s your first time, comes with obstacles you may have never faced. But these are also opportunities to develop better communication, work with a team, engage with people, understand local issues, take initiative, and be confident in your decisions.

International volunteering is a formidable experience. You will come home with a whole different perception of the world, friends on the other side of the planet, knowledge on matters of global importance, life-changing stories, and gratitude – lots and lots of gratitude.

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