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Why volunteer aboard: Cape Town

There are two ways to look at international volunteering:

  1. ​One is that  it is a rewarding  and  positive arrangement for all parties  involved; that  people benefit from your skills, knowledge and efforts, and in return  you benefit from the fact you are committing yourself to a good and worthwhile cause for little material gain.

  2. On the  other  hand  there  is the  view that  international volunteering  is a mutual  exchange  for both  the volunteer and the community they are working with; you are willing to give yourself as a cheap source of labour for a certain amount  of time, and in exchange you will get some amazing life and  job experiences,  while being able  to  travel  to  a country and immerse  yourself into the culture and local community.

People generally decide to go abroad and volunteer for one or more of the following reasons:

  • To take a gap year before going to university

  • To take time off during your studies

  • To drop yourself in at the “deep end” in a totally unknown culture and land

  • To change direction in their life.

  • To seek a different experience after graduation.

  • To give something back

International volunteering  is an  extremely  rewarding  and  challenging  way to  travel  and  see  the  world. We can guarantee  that  during your volunteer experience  abroad,  regardless  of whether  it is for 2 weeks or 6 months,   you  will  experience   a  myriad  of  emotions   such  as  elation,   disappointment,  sadness, helplessness,  joy and  satisfaction.  Ask  anyone  that  has  volunteered  before  and  they  will rate  their volunteer  stints  abroad  as highlights in their  life for a variety of reasons;  the  total  immersion  in a different  culture, the eye opening and sad experiences  leaving them with a feeling of helplessness,  the joy of helping someone achieve a goal and the friendships forged in unknown lands. Regardless of your motivation to volunteer, in order to get the most out of your experience it is important to set clear goals before you arrive.

Before international volunteering, it is important to clarify your motives. You may be drawn to volunteer work by a desire to help impoverished people.  You may be interested in learning about another culture and society. You may wish to be part of a process of positive social change. You may wish to use it as a base for living cheaply in a foreign land whilst getting to travel. Or you may wish to gain experience which will help you find employment.  Each of these motivations will direct you to distinct options for volunteering. By volunteering abroad you have the opportunity, which you might not necessarily get otherwise, to learn new skills that will significantly enhance your career prospects when you return home. You may choose  an  activity to  supplement   future  study  or career  plans. Alternatively, you may choose activities that give you a well- rounded experience or something unusual and adventurous or you may wish to choose an activity that also gives you a chance to explore a different culture at first hand.​

It is important to go abroad with an open mind. Accept that what works in your culture and community does not always work in the community you will be living and working in. Most importantly be prepared to teach and give but also to receive and learn. While each volunteer project within Cape Town will have its own  expectations  in regards  to  volunteer  responsibilities  and  duties,  volunteers  are  expected  to possess a  positive outlook and a proactive  style towards  their  work.

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