Why do Volunteer Work abraod?
You are visiting our website because you are interested in a stay abroad in Latin America. One possible way to go abroad is do volunteer travel. You have probably heard of others who have taken such a trip to volunteer in a social project. But why should you work without pay and on the other side pay for the organization, food and accommodation?
Volunteering abroad is not about making money, but about looking outside the box, discovering the world and doing something good. Volunteers work in non-governmental organizations (NGOs, or ONGs in Spanish) that rely on them to help people or the environment in their region. There is a wide range of different organizations and projects: some care for disadvantaged children, others for the disabled, the sick or the elderly. There are projects especially for the homeless or young mothers. Those who see their strengths in areas other than people can work in animal protection, in nature conservation projects or in the construction of living space for poor people.
Education is the be-all and end-all of a well-functioning society. Where this is lacking, a vicious circle of ignorance, precarious work or unemployment, poverty, crime and the consequential damage to society and the environment quickly dominate the daily life. If this happens, irretrievable resources are exploited or misused and animal species are brought to the brink of extinction. The end result is an environment where nobody can live well and where poverty only gets worse. This is where our partner organizations come in: They try to iron out mistakes that have already been made and prevent them in the future by means of education.
Almost extinct species are protected, studied and attempts are made to stimulate reproduction; abused animals are saved and national parks are maintained. In areas with high levels of poverty, our partners are on site to reach the children with educational and leisure activities, so that they can still be happy children and hopefully break the cycle of poverty later.
EVERYONE can participate in such a project, even you! You don't make any money, but to see how something works with your own hands, how children smile at you because you have given them a nice day, how animals relax under your care, or how large plants you put in grow, that is priceless. Especially if you know that your work at this point really makes a difference and that many of these projects could not take place without the help of volunteers.
With your voluntary work, you not only help the people in the project of your choice, but also, not least, yourself: You broaden your horizons, learn a new language, immerse yourself in a different culture and mentality and become more flexible, resilient and personally mature. It is of course perfect if you can do a voluntary service in a project that deals with your profession or subject. And if this is not the case, then you may discover undreamed-of talents or new interests!
As the name suggests, volunteering is about your workforce, you are not on vacation in the project. Nevertheless, you have enough free time to get to know the country and its people. There are project positions for every vocation: In interesting cities with a lot of cultural offerings, in the jungle, in the vastness of Patagonia, in the mountains ... you have the choice!
With all adventures you must not forget that placing you in a project gives you a lot of responsibility. The projects depend on your conscientious and proactive cooperation.
If you choose to volunteer in Latin America, we would be happy to organize the placement for you in a project and country of your choice. In each project there is a contact person for the volunteers and we are always there for you by phone and email.
Service Learning Abroad
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!
Our destinations for volunteering in Latin America
Where in Latin America do you want to make the world a little bit better? Unfortunately, across the continent there is still a very large gap between rich and poor, and accordingly drastic social differences. This also applies to economically strong countries with high development such as Chile, Uruguay or Costa Rica.
Despite all the problems, the countries of Latin America enchant every visitor. They offer incredibly beautiful natural landscapes, interesting cultures, customs and festivals, friendly, helpful residents and diverse culinary experiences. As different as the cultures of Latin America are, they all have one thing in common: the family is the most important thing for people!
Deep jungle, picturesque colonial cities, white beaches, endless expanse ... which dream destination should it be?
Many don't stop at just one trip to Latin America, the continent is too fascinating and too big. The joy of people who rarely complain even under adverse conditions, great rhythms, a relaxed, pragmatic approach to life, a fascinating animal world and breathtaking natural scenery will also enchant you forever!
These are our target countries for volunteer work:
A legend says that after the creation of the world, God had something left of everything and just put it behind the mountains - and this is Chile. If you look at this long, narrow country between the Andes and the Pacific, you are inclined to believe that. Whether beaches, rainforest, desert, geysers, fjords, vineyards, green meadows, lakes, volcanoes, icebergs or high mountains, there is really something of everything.
Chile is very European, native people are only strongly represented in a few regions. The big cities are modern and quite sophisticated. Traveling in Chile is safe and comfortable.
The differences in the way of life between city and country are clear: while the business district of Santiago is called "Sanhattan" you can see through the country Huasos (Chilean cowboys) with straw hats on horses riding the area. The gap between rich and poor is just as great as this contrast. Glittering noble districts and poor barracks are not only a few meters apart in Santiago.
Most immediately think of Machu Picchu, then the Inca and then there is a break for many ... oh, the Nazca Lines! There is so much to discover here!
Peru has been the center of the Inca Empire for centuries and a good part of the population consists of descendants of the Incas or the peoples they subjugated.
Peru also offers a variety of landscapes, from the coast with beautiful beaches and great surf spots in the west to the highlands and the high Andes in the center to the Amazon basin with deep green jungle in the east. Sloths, monkeys, jaguars, anacondas and turtles are just as at home here as sea lions and of course alpacas, llamas, chinchillas and condors.
The Peruvians speak slowly and clearly, a good travel destination for beginners. The "hit" in Peru is the kitchen, which is now recognized as one of the best in the world.
Small but powerful describes best this beautiful and quaint little country in Central America. The population calls itself "Ticos" and their motto is: "Pura Vida" ("pure life"), a good description for their very relaxed attitude to life. Animal and nature conservation have long been important here, so Costa Rica can be considered "best practice" for other countries. Parrots, hummingbirds, butterflies, frogs, snakes, sloths, monkeys, crocodiles and wild cats are found here, as are the endangered sea turtles, which are handled by several of our partner projects.
Tropical forests, picture-perfect beaches and the said "pura vida!" Will inspire you! In addition, Costa Rica is one of the most developed countries in Latin America and one of the few in the world without an army. Thanks to the lively tourism, the friendly Ticos are used to foreigners and will be happy to bring you closer to their small country.
Ecuador is located directly on the equator and has a particularly high biodiversity, especially thanks to the tropical rainforests. Unfortunately, it is also one of the poorest countries in Latin America. A large proportion of the Ecuadorians descend from the original indigenous population.
The Ecuatorians generally take a relaxed approach to life ... You can't expect punctuality here, but you can learn that it can be done without it. If you feel stressed in your “real life”, volunteering in Ecuador could be the right antidote.
The famous Galapagos Islands also belong to Ecuador, you can do your voluntary service both there and on the mainland. Wherever, you will definitely encounter one or the other exotic animal. Attention, piranhas are also part of it!
Guatemala was once the center of the Mayan Empire and you can still see its traces everywhere: in the people who descend from them, in the language (only about half of the population speaks Spanish as their mother tongue), in clothing, in customs and in spectacular historical sites like Tikal. Guatemala is scenically beautiful and one of the most culturally interesting countries in Latin America, but unfortunately also one of those with great poverty.
Most people's lives are simple and hard, often characterized by lack and survival skills. Children are often neglected or have to help their families early on. Several volunteer projects in Guatemala are therefore concerned with protecting children and their needs. The deprived life leaves people in Guatemala with little air to take care of the environment and animal welfare, so that volunteers are urgently needed for this too.
Bolivia is popular with tourists mainly because of the beautiful Lake Titicaca with its floating islands. Another must-see is the endless salt lake Salar de Uyuni, where you feel like you are on another planet. Large parts of Bolivia are located on the Altiplano, a high plateau of the Andes, which is why many Bolivians live at heights of 3,500 meters and more. You should use cocatee or similar to prevent altitude sickness.
But not everything is high up here, part of the country also includes the Amazon basin with its deep green jungle and many exotic animal species. Bolivia is also one of the poorest countries on the continent, a lot of help is needed to at least counter the poorest poverty. If you get involved with Bolivia and its inhabitants, you will get to know a completely different way of life: the clocks seem to tick more slowly here, the people are calm and patient despite all worries.
What are the benefits of volunteering abroad?
Why should I consider to be a volunteer abroad? This question is perfectly justified. You work on a voluntary basis, with no salalry, you have travel expenses and must pay for food and lodging. And yet, there are really many reasons for volunteering abroad.
Find out about the many advantages below, and you will quickly realize that the costs and efforts are worth it!
Stay abroad as the key to success
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!
Acquire and improve language skills
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.
Your cooperation is important
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.
Grow as a person
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.
Learn to be tolerant
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.
Learn from foreign cultures
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.
Make friends for life
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.
Make amazing travel experiences
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.
What are the requirements
to be a volunteer abroad
There are some formal requirements that you need to fulfill as a volunteer for your stay abroad. These include:
- To be of age (some projects are also available for 17-year-olds, please contact us if you are interested)
- Valid passport with a duration of at least 6 months or longer (please check the entry requirements of your destination country)
- Vaccinations (if given according to entry regulations or by the volunteer project)
- 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.
You are tolerant!
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.
You are adaptable!
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!
You have team spirit!
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.
You are helpful!
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!
You are responsible!
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.
You enjoy good health!
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.
You are flexible!
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.
You are proactive and take initiative!
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.
Which volunteer project suits me?
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 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 nature conservation. In some Latin American countries, there are also volunteer services in community work or programs that target indigenous people. 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.
Planning and organizing
of your volunteer travel abraod
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.