10 Reasons to Volunteer Abroad in High School
If you love travelling and want to make an impact, why not combine both and volunteer abroad?
Volunteering as a high school student is a great way to experience the world at a young age. The experience will enrich your life by teaching you new skills, immersing yourself in a new culture and will give you a step up in your college applications.
I volunteered abroad for the first time as a Junior in high school on a service trip to the Dominican Republic. I spent 8 days there working with locals to build an aqueduct to connect a rural community with clean water. 8 days may not seem like a lot but these 8 days completely shifted my world and is still one of the best things I’ve ever done!
Here are ten reasons why volunteering abroad as a high school student will be the best decision you can make:
1. Find your power to make an impact
The most important reason to volunteer abroad in high school is to make an impact and change something in the world for the better. There will be moments where you will be able to directly see the impact you have created - it is empowering and life changing. You will leave this trip confidently knowing that you CAN and DID make an impact in the world.
2. Get inspired
As you travel to a different place and experience new people and cultures every second of the trip will be an inspirational moment. The conversations you will have during this experience will be memorable and inspiring throughout your life. The local people you meet and their stories will inspire you to continue to make a difference and most importantly continue to make connections with people you normally wouldn’t connect with. The impact you make and the lessons you learn will live with you forever and fill you with inspiration and motivation for years to come.
3. Open your mind about different cultures
Usually as a high schooler it is difficult to travel and experience different cultures. Even if you have travelled we tend to stay in the touristy locations and not immerse ourselves with the local’s true ways of life. Volunteering abroad is the perfect way to completely immerse yourself in a different culture. Experiencing the sights, smells, food, language and reality of a new place opens your mind to how many other places and cultures exist outside of your hometown.
4. Challenge yourself-step out of your comfort zone
Our hometowns are our comfort zone, we are accustomed to the high school we attend, the faculty and peers we see daily and the lifestyle we live here. Travelling to a new place means experiencing new people, new ways of transportation, new foods, new language etc… Volunteering abroad means stepping outside of your comfort zone. Doing this is how we grow and how we find ourselves on a deeper level. Volunteering abroad is outside of our comfort zone in the best possible way.
5. Travel safely at a young age
For some travelling abroad is scary (even for grown adults) but putting yourself out there at such a young age will grow your independence and trust skills. Volunteer abroad programs are there for you every step of the way, from the flights there to the flight back. Most programs place you with staff members or a host family. There are plans in place in case of any challenges or emergencies. You will travel with a safety net knowing someone is always there for you if you need anything.
6. Acquire new language skills
Most of us are usually required to learn a second language in high school. Knowing a second language is a great skill and is extremely useful. Volunteering abroad is a great way to begin to pick up a new language or put into practice the language you have been learning in school. It truly makes a difference when you practice a language in real life situations.
7. Discover travelling with a purpose
There are hundreds of articles and headlines about the potential negative impacts of travel and tourism. However, once you discover travelling with a purpose you will see how your travel can be a force for good. Your volunteer trip will come with zero guilt, it is an invaluable experience that will impact the lives of the locals and your life in return.
8. Strengthen college applications
Maybe you haven’t put in a lot of thought into your college applications and resumes but when the time comes you will be thankful to have something so unique to present to potential colleges. Colleges are looking for experiences that set students apart and volunteering abroad is definitely something that will set you apart. It demonstrates that you are empathetic, independent, adventurous and open-minded all of which are top desirable qualities for college admissions.
9. Learn about new career paths
Your future major or career path may present itself in unexpected ways while volunteering abroad during high school. New career paths open up as you see people can make a living while helping others and doing what they love. Maybe you will have a conversation with a staff member that introduces you to their role in the organization. Maybe you will meet a local who lacks resources to further their education and you decide you want to do something about it. Volunteering abroad opens up opportunities for students in ways you can’t even imagine!
10. Gain Perspective
As a high school student we tend to be very busy trying to balance school activities, friends and getting into colleges that we push aside the bigger picture. Volunteering abroad will set a new perspective on life from a young age. You will see how the phrase “first world problems” takes on a completely new meaning. You will gain perspective on what is truly important to you, you will realign your priorities in life and leave with a grateful spirit.
Seeing a completely new way of life will help you gain a well-rounded perspective of the world. By stepping outside of the borders of your home country you will see how different life can be. You will gain first hand experience in the problems that others are experiencing outside of your home country while seeing the ways you can make a change.