Combine Traveling with Volunteering for a Rewarding Experience
When we list the benefits of volunteering, the experience of different regions, cultures, and peoples is often overlooked. But volunteering is actually a great way to see parts of the world while improving the quality of life for the less fortunate. The notion of traveling to volunteer may conjure images of living in huts and helping to build irrigation ditches in the remote lands of inner Africa, but while that remains a destination for some volunteers, you don’t have to go that far from home to lend a helping hand.
In reality, there are plenty of needs domestically that young volunteers can help address. Although the travel is not as exotic as some destinations, it’s also much more affordable for families who can’t pony up thousands of dollars to shuttle their children abroad. Whether it’s hurricane recovery efforts in the south, assisting on native American reservations or providing services to other less fortunate urban and rural parts of the United States, there are plenty of ways you can package volunteering with traveling.
Some organizations also offer summer travel programs for high school students, making it easier to find and latch on to one of these opportunities. If you’re wondering what exactly these programs can offer you, here’s a quick breakdown.
Life skills training and real-world experience
One of the biggest obstacles facing young people in the United States is the considerable lack of real-world experience they have when they look to entering college or the work force. No matter how much diligent studying you’ve done in school, it’s hard to substitute in-class study for the tangible experience of using your mind and body to assist communities in need.
In the process of volunteering, you can gain life skills training that isn’t easily acquired through a classroom or office training session. Even if the skills you develop don’t directly relate to your long-term interests, they still make you a more well-rounded individual with rich life experiences.
It isn’t always easy to see the poverty and despair many communities – even those in America – face on a daily basis. The awareness you can gain through a student volunteering program will be invaluable as you continue to grow as a person.
Seeing your country, then seeing the world
There’s quite the premium placed on being a jet-setting world traveler, but that mentality can overlook the diverse riches of exploring your native country. This is especially true in the United States, which boasts so much land that there are a variety of landscapes, cultures and unique destinations that some people lump together as one and the same. The red rocks and Hispanic influence of the southwestern states is a vast departure from the Nordic roots that have reached deep into the soil of Minnesota.
Don’t deny yourself the opportunity to check out these parts of your country. International travel is exciting as well, but it’s also expensive and impractical for some students and families. And when you get to college and to your professional life, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for overseas travel – as a high schooler, take advantage of the traveling that is available to you.
Volunteering shouldn’t be done just for the chance to travel to new places, but it’s an unquestionable benefit of devoting your time to a worthy cause. If you’re eager to help less fortunate communities by contributing to a volunteer effort, check with your school and other student organizations to see what opportunities are available to you. And if you can, bring some friends along with you – you’ll have more fun, and the needy destinations will appreciate the extra help.
About the Author
Lindsey Harper Mac is a writer and editor living in Indianapolis. She specializes in writing about education, social media and technology.