International Volunteer Day 2017
The term volunteering includes several activities like first aid in a crisis area, engagement in local organisations or a European Voluntary service as we do. The main characteristics of volunteering is that the people do it because of their free will, that it is for the good of the general public and that gaining money is not the principle aim of the work.
More than 1 billion people volunteer globally, the majority of them working in their own countries.
On 5th of December we celebrate the International Volunteer Day. It is a chance to celebrate the efforts of volunteers worldwide. The 2017 theme is: Volunteers Act First. Here. Everywhere. It honours the work of volunteers all around the world. In times of crisis volunteers are often the first ones to help. They help saving lives and brave many dangers to help others.
So just what are the reasons that make so many people want to do a voluntary service?
It is a well-known fact that luckily, volunteering gives you plenty of soft skills. You are faced with problems on a daily basis, you have to deal with a mix of personalities and all while adjusting to life outside of your comfort zone. This all adds up and helps to improve your teamwork, leadership, problem-solving and people skills.
Another amazing motivator for volunteering abroad is the insightful, real-world experiences that volunteers gain in the field. Get ready to gain a hands-on experience in the field you are most interested in and passionate about. This also adds up to the new abilities and skills you will learn.
Volunteering, at home or abroad, also gives you the chance to vote every day about the kind of community and world you want to live in. It gives you the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than yourself and use your civic responsibility for the greater good. Without people who are willing to sacrifice their time and skills to meaningful causes, a lot more people and animals would be worse off. And to be honest to know that you do something good and important with your time feels like the right thing to do.
The things you will do during volunteering, whether big or small, will have an impact on someone’s life. By teaching someone to speak English, you are helping them break the cycle of not being able to communicate in the surrounding this person is now living in and therefor provide them with opportunities to not only improve their current situation but also impact their further life. Their kids and families will have a better quality of life for generations to come because of you.
Moreover, volunteering lets you meet people from all parts of the world, all having different characters, but still sharing similar points of view. It gives you the chance to form real relationships that can have a lasting impact on your life. You could meet your new best friend, future business partner or have a conversation that sparks a real change in your life. Maybe they will help you to decide what to do afterwards or just provide you with a whole new way of seeing things that happen to you.
Another reason for volunteering is to learn a new language. By taking the time to learn a country’s language you are opening yourself up to its culture and learn how to better fit into the local society. By trying to understand a language, we learn about the heritage that goes with it. In fact, becoming part of the local community is one of the most popular reasons people choose to volunteer abroad. Living in a community gives you a different view of the people and the country. You learn about their everyday struggles, their culture and day-to-day lives. It’s a great opportunity to soak up village life and experience meaningful cultural exchange.
Of course, volunteering is not something to take lightly and needs to be treated with the utmost respect, but it is also fun! It’s a reason to meet new people, embrace cultural traditions and go on adventures. During your downtime you can spend a weekend island hopping, climbing, or whatever you are up to, the choices are endless! Combining this with all the altruistic reasons to volunteer, makes for an unforgettable experience which will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Your personal reason for volunteering should begin where your passions lie, but you can use our thoughts on why to do a voluntary service as a starting point to find out what exactly they are. You may for example let your love for animals, teaching or healthcare create positive change in the world. Allow your actions to be led from a place of passionate intention. That way all the hard work will be worth it, you will be more committed to the cause and as a result, your impact will be that much bigger.
Written by Karolin Rippich and Vera Lennartz