Things to keep in mind while volunteering

  • 2006-08-30
  • by Jody Yurkowsky
It will sometimes be difficult, but in the end, the challenge is worth the time. The comforts may be lacking and you likely won't be bunking in a four star hotel, but then again, you didn't pay for one, did you?

Communication creates understanding. It is no secret that lack of communication leads to false expectations and wrong interpretations. If something is unclear, say so. If you want to know something, ask a question.

While volunteering often requires no special skills, what you bring with you to the task will enrich it. Do you have specific skills or talents you would like to share with your volunteer organization?

Come prepared. Get to know as much as possible about your placement before you arrive. This way you will avoid disappointments and potential understandings.

Your volunteer placement is also a cultural exchange. Bring things with you that represent your culture and country such as photos, music, songs, a musical instrument, games, books, sweets, etc. that will help others to learn something more about you and your culture.

Don't forget to bring a good mood, a big smile, flexibility, fresh ideas and a sense of humor!!!

Safety first. Always arrange your volunteer experience with a reputable organisation. If in doubt, contact the local NGO center in the country and ask them for help.

Volunteer work is appreciated and needed because these organisations have very tight budgets. There is no extra money. It is that simple, so don't ask.

Take time to try and learn the local language. It will enrich your experience.

Take lots of photos. It will be impossible to convey your experience to those who haven't shared it, but photos help.