How Volunteering Can Benefit You

Volunteering is not only a lesson on life, different cultures and social situations but it is also a lesson on yourself. Being put in sometimes uncomfortable situations, seeing harsh poverty for the first time or being immersed in a completely new culture, is an opportunity for you to learn about how you deal with such situations. You may find strength or resilience you never knew you had, or you might have to face these challenges head on.

Overcoming and teaching yourself from first-hand experience is one of the best ways to grow as an individual. Volunteering can not only benefit the people you are helping but yourself as well. The following is a list of experiences from volunteers in Bodhgaya in India but really, they apply to volunteering as a whole. Follow these excellent examples and you can truly make a genuine difference. (credits for post listed at end).

Explore a new way of life

“One of the good things of volunteering in a foreign country is that you get the opportunity to see another culture, different places, and experiment with its people, etc. The fact of seeing how things are done in another place, how is its weather, everything, compared to what you know gives you another perspective from which to value things. So, it is not only great that you are doing a huge social labor, you can explore you own self while expanding your views by the constant contrast of visions.”

Learn to relax your mind

“While you are away from your country, family, friends and culture; you might face very difficult and stressful situations. All these can cause hard feelings, sad emotions and much more. One helpful tool we learned, at the Damma Bodhi, is Meditation. You can work out your mind just like you exercise any other muscle of your body. You can make your mind stop working for a while because it needs, just like your body, to rest for a while so it can work better. This can help you in understanding the situations and emotions you live with more clarity and calm down in stressful circumstances.”

practice yoga abroad

Inspire and have a lasting impact on a community

“Everybody has something to contribute to everybody else and we would be surprised to discover how many things we can teach with our example. The volunteers always try to teach from their personal experience. They try to encourage the youths to go beyond oneself and finding the reasons within oneself to give into the others. There are many ways that the simplest of things you might do and teach might change the world to somebody else. Each person has a commitment and a place, and here you will be able to find it.”

Grow, learn and develop your thinking

“Volunteering will teach you to grow as a person, will teach you patience, tolerance, to value what you own, to be more aware of your emotions and thoughts and to control your mind. You will learn about how the locals live, their customs, their way of working, their way of enjoying and spending their free time.”

Fiji island teaching

You’ll be investing in yourself, as well as the people you help

“Voluntary work is great as a help for others in need. You are able to contribute to the development of a community by giving some of your time. This for some people might be something very hard to do. You might have your working routine, your job, your life and when comes to having some free time it sounds something very hard to sacrifice it for other people (who you might not even know). You might consider the most appropriate thing to do to invest your time in relaxing, in enjoying, and disconnecting. Just investing in oneself. But these are just the reasons why you should do a volunteer. It is an inversion in yourself. You will not be only contributing to others but the contribution that you find for yourself is even bigger. You get to experiment a very different reality of your own and disconnect completely. You will come back renewed, with a wider perspective and reconnected with yourself. Volunteering is more important to oneself and your personal development than anybody might think. You will be focused on your present but at the same time you will be writing your future.”

Gain a new family

“While you volunteer there are moments of loneliness, you are away from your family and friends, you have to adapt to a new environment and culture which makes you fill lost from time to time. But, in another hand, you cannot imagine the things you gain. You will meet people that will form your new family, family from different parents but whose members take care of each other as blood brothers. You will share unique moments with this family that will stay with yourself for a life time.”

Volunteering increases your cultural awareness 

“Leaving your country behind might be very tough but also travelling makes your mind open more and more, broadening to places you might not even have ever imagined. You start getting a bigger awareness of the reality of the whole World. You will adapt to a new environment, culture, daily routine; you will do the same things as the local people do and living under the same aspects, which will help you understand their reality”

IVI Volunteer teaching Nepalese Children

Put a smile on people’s faces

“A thing that you will never forget from your volunteer days is the children’s smile and the happiness in their eyes when they see you; the way all the children want to be around you and share experiences with you. For them having you with them is a celebration, a gift. They are grateful that someone from so far away is willing to come to be with them and share your precious time with them. They are grateful of knowing that through you they will discover a different world than theirs. They will grow as persons and acquire new knowledge from being in touch with you.”

Make lifetime bonds with fellow volunteers

“Some of the people will go at certain point, is the conditions of the volunteering work. You will learn to deal with farewell. There is a clash of feelings going on. You are happy for all the times shared, happy for this person returning to his loved ones, sad for thinking you might not see each other for a while, you might feel there is a lot of work is to be done, etc. Despite all of these, you have made a bond for life through the unique experiences shared and the volunteer work can be developed on the ground as much as from the distance. A volunteering work never has an end if you have the will.”

volunteers passports

Learn from each other

“Everything that we contribute, as little as it might seem or you might think it is, will have a great repercussion on the future of the children of the school. The volunteers inculcate different values, ways of doing things, they teach everything that is within their hands and knowledge. This apprenticeship is not only for the children, is also for the volunteers. Both parts learn very valuable lessons for life.”

 

IVI Volunteers are a Charity & Non Profit Org, giving people the chance to experience authentic volunteering opportunities, through sustainable and affordable projects. Find out more about our story

 

Credits for this post:

Copywriting by Pilar Diaz Clemente 

Design & copywriting by Federico Stura

 

 

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