Volunteer tourism has become more popular in recent years. For those who love to travel to different countries, voluntourism is a great way to travel, immerse yourself in a culture, and make a difference in the lives of local people and communities.
Many organizations do not require you to have any special skills; simply a good work ethic, an open mind, and a willingness to learn. Here are five voluntourism opportunities that are sure to be eye-opening and impactful.
Volunteering in Mexico: Teach English to University Students
Many non-English speakers in Mexico would like to learn the language, and the most effective way to learn any language is to study it with a native speaker. In Global Volunteers’ host communities of Queretaro and Guanajuato, volunteers teach conversational English to college students, either individually or in small groups, in a fun, informal environment for several hours a day for two weeks.
Volunteers build relationships with the students, and learn about their country and culture while helping them build their English language skills. Here, the emphasis is not on grammar, but on conversation. No previous teaching experience is required. The class will use a syllabus and textbooks.
Volunteering in India: Community Development in New Delhi
Women worldwide are striving for equality in their societies. In New Delhi, you can volunteer at women’s organizations to help provide forums and resources for local women. Ways volunteers can contribute include exchanging ideas on ways to fight for women’s rights, coming up with income-generating projects, teaching basic computer skills, helping with small businesses, providing shelters for victims of domestic violence, or even providing childcare services while mothers run errands.
There is strength in numbers, and when women are fully integrated into their communities as equal citizens, their communities, local economies, and the world at large benefits. Volunteers must commit to at least three weeks and can stay for a maximum of twelve weeks.
Volunteer Vacations in the US: Helping and Exploring New Orleans
Six years after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, there’s still much work to be done in rebuilding many of the areas affected. In New Orleans, Sierra Club volunteers work under the inter-faith group, Center for Ethical Living, and focus on housing construction and repair, and wetlands restoration. In addition to learning about the importance of wetlands to the environment and the issues that have stalled restoration, volunteers will also have ample opportunity to explore the city on their own and in groups, as well as listen to and facilitate dialogue with speakers on the history of race and class politics in New Orleans.
The trip’s duration will be one week. Check the website for the itinerary, and keep in mind that the program may be subject to change due to weather or other conditions.
Volunteering in Poland: Witness to History
Sixty-six years ago, one of the darkest periods in human history ended, leaving six million Jews, along with millions of other Europeans, dead in its wake. Volunteers who participate in this 10-day journey will help preserve the memory of those who perished during the Holocaust and learn about modern-day Jewish life in Poland.
The program starts in Krakow, where volunteers take a guided tour of the city and are introduced to Jewish culture. Next, they take the bus to Oswiecim, the location of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. Here, volunteers will work on projects at Auschwitz and the nearby Jewish Cemetery that range from groundskeeping, to working with artifacts. After volunteers complete their service, they return to Krakow.
Volunteers are sure to come away with a deeper understanding of the resilience of Jewish people, and people in general, and humanity’s capacity to triumph over devastating tragedy.
Volunteering in Jamaica: The Music Project
The arts are a vital part of every culture. If you play an instrument and love a wide variety of music, this program is an opportunity to use your expertise to teach music education to children in Jamaica. Volunteers will teach children between the ages of 6-18 how to play keyboard, guitar, drums, flutes, and violins, as well as instruct children on how to read and notate music, improvise melodies, and compose and arrange music. The education and experiences children gain from this program have the potential to not only bring them a greater appreciation of music, but also a better understanding of the connection between music and culture.
This program focuses primarily on traditional Jamaican music, but volunteers will also be encouraged to develop workshops on different music genres for students. Volunteers can choose their own start and end dates, but they must commit to at least two weeks.