On this online guide on the topic of volunteer travel, you will find valuable information that will help you to realize your dream to spend some time abroad. Our specialty is Latin America. It is here, where we are located, where we are fluent in the local language, and where we are familiar with the local culture due to own life and work experiences. Our many years of experience and our in-depth expertise in volunteering, internships abroad, work & travel, farm stay and Spanish courses in Latin America have been incorporated into our helpful online guide. If you have further questions, we are very happy to assist you. Just contact us!
Why actually volunteer abroad? This question has certainly already occupied you. You work voluntarily, have travel expenses and must pay for food and lodging. And yet, there are really many reasons for volunteering abroad. Below you will find out about the many benefits and you will quickly realize that the costs and efforts are worthwhile!
The earth can be traveled with standard Travel packages, but during a stay abroad, such as volunteer work, an internship, work & travel or farm stay, you gain important international work experience and continue to develop personally. In addition to numerous new impressions and exciting discoveries, you also gain practical experience. You will benefit from it all your life - personally and professionally! Volunteer travel in your resume will make you more interesting when applying for a job.
New studies prove that overseas experience has become a prerequisite for top positions as we live in a highly globalized world. But not only people with the career goal of "top managers" should consider volunteering abroad, but this kind of international experience is an absolute asset to any CV. After all, in addition to a good university degree or an internships in renowned companies, so-called "soft skills" play a very important role in today's job market. Yes, you have read correctly, the "soft factors" weigh almost as hard as expertise. How bad that they are not recorded on any reference letter.
So you have to let actions speak instead of notes. Above all, todays HR expects initiative, teamwork, adaptability, tolerance and communication. So all qualities that reflect your personal maturity. Volunteering abroad is a clear message to the HR managers: I'm a team player, flexible, resilient, adaptable and can communicate with foreign cultures!
Spanish as a door opener for future jobs! Our volunteer projects take place exclusively in Spanish-speaking destinations throughout Latin America. Spanish is gaining more and more importance as a foreign language. Those who cannot prove their knowledge of foreign languages have significant disadvantages in their job. Almost everybody knows English today! But with an additional foreign language, such as Spanish, do you really mark an advantage and will stand out from the crowd. And you also benefit personally if you speak Spanish. So, there are a lot of tourist destinations in Spanish-speaking countries and even at home you might meet a lot of Spanish-speaking people. Learning Spanish abroad is much more fun than playing the drums in the classroom. And as part of volunteering in Latin America, you'll also apply your Spanish skills and improve quickly. Practice is well known to be the master - you'll soon realize how easy it will be for you to communicate in Spanish.
In Latin America, the gap between rich and poor is very big. On the one hand, a small upper-class floats in immeasurable luxury, on the other hand many millions of people suffer from poverty. Another negative side effect in developing countries, which want to develop rapidly, are major environmental damage and the merciless exploitation of nature and local wildlife. With the help of volunteers from all over the world, social volunteer projects, environmental protection and animal welfare programs can be launched and kept alive and things can be moved that would not be possible without the help of volunteers from abroad. Humans, animals and nature have a tangible benefit in engaging in volunteer projects on the ground. Your work is an important workforce, and your skills will benefit people and nonprofit organizations, whether you volunteer in a hospital, a school, a children's home or in the rainforest, an animal welfare center, or with endangered sea turtles.
Discover yourself by volunteering abroad and learn more about your strengths, interests and weaknesses. Many of our volunteers tell us that they have positively influenced and personally developed by the experience of living abroad in Latin America. Thinking outside the box has made most of them develop social skills they did not know before. Also, a stay abroad strengthens your self-confidence, so you are in a foreign land on your own and live with people that you did not know before. The many new impressions and experiences make you think and strengthen your own personality. The voluntary service abroad opens completely new perspectives for you and paves the way for your future.
In a foreign assignment, such as volunteering in a developing country, you undoubtedly encounter people who confront you with foreign values, attitudes, and habits. You will get to know life situations that were completely strange and unimaginable to you up to that point. Working and living in many regions of Latin America will surprise, impress, or even frighten or frustrate you. Maybe there are injustices that make you angry. However, your job as a volunteer is not to criticize people or their lives or to try to change them. Rather, you should learn to tolerantly and openly deal with this new challenge, to respect the people and to adapt to the local conditions. These are qualities that are also very important in the later professional world and make you a respected person in your personal environment.
As a volunteer abroad, you not only do good things, but you also live in a different culture, get to know the local customs and habits as well as daily routines. You learn to find your bearings in a foreign culture, learn more about social codes and taboos, religions and living conditions. Encountering with all these new impressions, being in contact with strangers and getting to know new cultures promotes your intercultural competences and opens your horizon. Your understanding of foreign cultures will grow, and you can draw important conclusions about your own culture.
In any case, with the other volunteers in your volunteer project, you have one thing in common: you've traveled to Latin America to help with charitable projects, to get to know the country and its people, and to do good. Often you also share the accommodation and take the daily meals together. The many shared moments, weekend trips and excursions will forge a bond between you and your new friends. Maybe the one or the other homesickness plagues you, or you struggle with culture shock? Certainly there are other volunteers who provide support, are there for you, listen to you and make you laugh. There are many ways to get to know other volunteers, meet like-minded people and make friends for life.
Combine the useful with the beautiful! You've read a lot about the professional and personal benefits of volunteering in a developing country. But, of course, volunteering abroad is also fun. Get to know a country off the beaten track, gain deep insights into the lives of the locals, and gain valuable travel experience. The knowledge of the country you acquire during your volunteer work will be your life-long companion. Most of our volunteers agree that the many great impressions, experiences and memories they have gained during their travels in Latin America are an absolute enrichment and an unforgettable experience.
There are some formal requirements that you need to fulfill as a volunteer for your stay abroad. These include:
1. To be of age (some projects are also available for 17-year-olds, please contact us if you are interested)
2. Valid passport with a duration of at least 6 months or longer (please check the entry requirements of your destination country)
3. Vaccinations (if given according to entry regulations or by the volunteer project)
4. Conclusion of a foreign health insurance
Note: A visa is not necessary in most cases, as volunteering abroad is not paid employment.
In addition to the formal requirements, you must meet some personal requirements so that both you and the volunteer project benefit from your volunteer work.
Please do not put prejudices of the foreign culture and other people into your luggage. You do not need that during your stay abroad! On the contrary, tolerance is a very important feature if you want to be successful and have fun while volunteering abroad. Respect the foreign culture, the other habits and the different mentality with great respect. While the other way of working may not always make much sense in your eyes, the goal of volunteering abroad is not to criticize or smile at people for acting and doing, but to work with them for a good cause.
On a trip abroad, especially in developing countries, you leave your home comfort zone. It is very important that you are ready to adapt to a different life situation. In Latin America, you certainly will not find the usual standards of home again. Especially volunteer projects in developing countries are often located in very secluded areas in the middle of beautiful nature or you live with a local host family, who belongs to a foreign culture. But that's the exciting thing about volunteering abroad! Immerse yourself in a foreign land, experience culture, traditions and people up close, learn from them, just let go and adapt to the other life circumstances. A unique experience that will mature and grow you as a person!
In a voluntary work, the team idea is always over self-interest. Working in a team is fun and brings good mood and variety! So, for your volunteer work abroad, you should bring along a great deal of team spirit, because you always work together with other people, be it volunteers from other countries or local project staff. However, when so many foreign and diverse cultures meet, teamwork can become a whole new challenge. Even more important, that you have the ability to communicate in a group, work constructively and fairly and do not want to punch through your will at all costs.
A really very important and unavoidable trait is the sense of responsibility. The volunteer project is counting on your support and your cooperation has been tightly scheduled. A high level of responsibility is the alpha and omega. During your volunteer work in Latin America, you are assigned to certain areas of activity that you must do on your own. Keep in mind that you may be responsible for people (e.g. child relief projects) or animals (e.g. animal welfare projects) that depend on your reliable work. Please take your role as a volunteer very seriously and carry out your tasks in the project conscientiously and carefully.
For most projects, volunteers who "do a good job" are most appreciated. By participating in a voluntary service abroad, you are consciously choosing to work in another country. You are not on a vacation trip. So, you have choosen to offer your help and valuable time to other people, nature protection or animals welfare. What really matters is your helpfulness!
For volunteering in a developing country, it is very important for your health to be in line with the working and living conditions of the volunteer project. Some projects require hard physical work, where physical fitness and staying power are very important. The project sites are partly located in climatically and scenically extreme areas such as in the humid Amazon rainforest, at over 2000m altitude in the Andes highlands or in the windy and cool Patagonia. When volunteering with children, it is very important that you do not have mental health problems, such as eating disorders, depression, etc. You are responsible for the well-being and protection of the children. Many of them are struggling with the processing of traumatic experiences. Your role as a volunteer is to give them strength, confidence and prospects, to make them laugh and help with their rehabilitation. In these cases, it is unfortunately out of place if you yourself are under psychological care.
Be prepared for the fact that volunteering in Latin America is much different from what you know or are used to at home. The Latin Americans have a completely different order, time and work understanding. Even their logic of approaching certain things may not always make much sense in your eyes. The different language and culture can quickly lead to misunderstandings or communication problems. An important principle for you: always be flexible and spontaneous! You will soon realize that there is a solution for all situations and that you can quickly develop a plan B from a problem.
During your voluntary work abroad, do not expect someone to explain to you in a big way what needs to be done, where and when. Often there is only a brief introduction and then your proactivity and initiative are asked. Get actively involved, offer your help and see where you can best apply your skills and strengths. It is always great when volunteers constructively and friendly affix ideas and suggest their own small projects.
You are convinced that volunteering abroad is just the thing for you? And now you are faced with the big question: Which volunteer project actually suits me?
There are many different ways to do good abroad. In addition to a large number of social volunteer projects with children, in the education sector, in the area of social work with adults, women empowerment, with the homeless or sick people, there are volunteer projects, which are dedicated to animal welfare or fight for nature conservation. In some Latin American countries, there are also volunteer services in community work or programs that target indigenous peoples. Volunteers in the field of home construction for the poor are also available for handcrafted people.
As you can see, the range of volunteer opportunities in Latin America is broad. In order to find the right voluntary service for you, you should decide for yourself where your strengths and personal interests lie. Ask yourself the following questions and write down the answers. Based on the results, it will be easy to figure out which volunteer project suits you best.
What do you like to do? What would you like to do once in your life? Which tasks are particularly easy for you? What can you do especially good? Which of your character traits and abilities are particularly strong and would benefit most from a particular volunteer project? Is there a country that you would like to get to know and travel to? In which climate zone or landscape do you feel particularly well? On the other hand, think about where your personal and physical limits are. Do you have fears or health restrictions that could affect your involvement in a volunteer project? Because with a spider phobia, volunteering in the jungle would not be the best choice for you. Or, if you are not quite at peace with yourself and are under psychological care, then you should refrain from volunteering with children. Thanks to the variety of volunteer projects that we offer on our homepage, there is definitely a volunteer program that is in line with your strengths, interests and abilities.
Our experienced staff will be happy to advise you personally.
Once you've found your favorite project, the next step is planning and organizing your trip and project participation. In doing so, you can count on the many years of experience of our staff, who will take great care in organizing your volunteer work abroad. We not only help you to reserve your place in your dream project but also help you with travel planning, questions about the appropriate foreign travel insurance, suggestions for your packing list, travel tips and much more. Please contact us directly with questions. We are always at your disposal.