When I was a university student in the UK, many organisations would often promote volunteering abroad. Indeed, volunteering is perceived as a good act, and most people do it out of their hearts’ goodness. However, I believe volunteering sometimes brings harm rather than positive results. For instance, an 18-year-old goes to help at an orphanage in Cambodia, but they have no experience with childcare, they do not know the ethics and customs of the country, neither the language with the result to not be able to adapt to the job. Even if the volunteers are the best childcarers, they make strong bonds with the children only to leave and perhaps create psychological issues for the children, such as abandonment issues. This is only one example of many.
However, not all volunteering projects are wrong or bring negative results. Volunteering is all about the intention of the volunteer. For example, many people, who are experts on their field, out of their hearts’ goodwill, volunteer, and do their best to make the world better.
Nowadays, though, there are more types of volunteering projects. Today, many volunteering projects abroad target young people who wish to explore, discover, learn, or simply have fun. For instance, there are many short-term cultural exchange projects giving everyone opportunities to learn a new language or merely learn about other cultures, try new cuisines, and meet people from different parts of the world. I believe these projects are an essential step for the world to create stronger bonds and become united. Considering what is happening at the moment in our world, the younger generations need to understand the significance of diversity, mutual understanding, and cultural exchange.
I was privileged to participate in three different cultural exchange projects in three different countries and live in very diverse communities, either while volunteering or studying. Before leaving my home country, I was rarely exposed to other cultures. Thus, my knowledge of the world was limited. Nowadays, I am fortunate to have friends all over the world and from entirely different backgrounds. We are all so different, but at the same time, we are all the same.
The best experience I had as a volunteer was at a volunteering project that I participated in South Korea. Firstly, the country is absolutely stunning, and everyone was so kind and hospitable. The volunteers’ team was a combination of both internationals and Koreans, which I preferred because we were also able to learn more about the country we were residing in.
Although, even before volunteering abroad, I had the chance to live in diverse communities and make friends with people from all over the world, volunteering was the reason I started understanding better other people and cultures. By volunteering abroad, I had the chance to see the world from a different perspective. I was able to see things through the local’s eyes rather than my own. Certainly, sometimes people don’t have the opportunity to travel abroad or live abroad. But I am sure even within your country, many different volunteering projects help you learn not necessarily about other nations or cultures, but about people who might have a different lifestyle than yours. After all, diversity is not only about different nationalities but, in general, about other cultures, religions, habits, ethics, and lifestyles.
With volunteering, you get the chance to spread love and kindness.