Volunteering abroad is a good way to spend your gap year, to take some time away from your life and travel around the world while doing good.
Yet, some people don’t have the same idea about free volunteering abroad. They search for opportunities to volunteer and offer their services for free, but they have a hidden agenda in mind.
Every volunteer and every organization are free to arrange their own relationship. However, volunteers should know about two things that volunteering abroad is NOT in any way.
It is Not a Paid Vacation
Volunteers are not on vacation. They contribute by working for the host organization.
Yes, they travel around in the afternoons, weekends, and public holidays. They have paid vacations in the case of long-term volunteering and travel further during that time.
Yet, volunteering abroad is not a few months or a full year of paid vacation.
You’ll work during your stay abroad and you’ll contribute to your hosts. That’s how you’ll deserve what they have provided you for free.
And when someone provides you with something for free, you have to give something else in return. In your case, that’s a dedication to the work of your hosts.
They do not owe you anything. No one owes you anything.
You have entered into this relationship of giving and receiving and you have to pay your dues from that relationship.
Do anything that you need to do according to the agreement and you’ll receive more than enough.
Do not ask for any more than that. These not-for-profit organizations have hard times to raise enough funds for their work, even harder times to secure money to facilitate your stay with them, so behave accordingly.
Do not ask for more food, for better accommodation, or for more free days. Do not ask for flights if they do not provide them.
Just do your work and you’ll get more than you could ever imagine. It may not seem like that in the beginning, but by the end of the service, you’ll know.
It is Not a Way to Immigrate Abroad
Volunteering is a legitimate way to gain experience in living and working abroad, but it is not a way to immigrate from your country.
Many people want to find a volunteering placement somewhere in the Western World, mostly Europe and the United States, with a hidden agenda in their minds. Their interest in volunteering is not because they want to help someone in need.
They want to help themselves move to another country to live and work. And that’s not good.
Sure, volunteer work is a good way to experience another country before possibly moving there. But, if you are looking for volunteering placements in the USA or Europe just to go there and never come back, then you are not doing any good to yourself nor to the organization that hosts you.
You’ll be deported in your home country, sooner or later. The organization that was good to you, hosted you, provided with accommodation and meals during your volunteering placement, may have problems with visas for their volunteers in the future, just because of that one volunteer who overstayed the visa and abused them for immigration.