This is a guest post written by Jenny Collins from Into the Wild
There are many reasons people choose to volunteer, it can be a way to travel without the guilt of being a rich tourist in a poor country or it can be a way to really get to know a community.
Volunteering is a great way to try and make a difference at the same time as adding to your own experiences. Here are some of the top benefits of volunteering:
Looks good on your CV
Whatever stage of life you’re at, having a volunteering experience to add to your CV can be a big help. It can show your dedicated interest in a new career field or add weight to your university application.
Improve your knowledge
There are so many transferrable skills to be gained from volunteering abroad that can help both in your general life and with your career goals. Just by providing yourself with new experiences you’ll have more to bring to conversation in interviews as well as in your social life!
Help you to decide your future
The only way to know what you want to do in your life is to try different things. Volunteering placements can give you the opportunity to try out a career such as teaching to avoid spending years on a teaching degree only to find it’s not really for you after all.
There’s something highly rewarding about proving you can do something. If you’ve never been travelling on your own, never trekked through a jungle or lived in basic conditions then volunteering opportunities can give you a chance to say ‘I can do that!’
Learning a language in a country it is spoken will always provide you with a wider vocabulary than if you just studied it in books. There are certain slang words and mannerisms which can only be picked up by immersing yourself in a country’s culture.
You may just live longer!
Purdue University found that those who often volunteered through formal organisations have better hearts, lower blood pressure and were less likely to suffer from depression. The University of Michigan also found similar results. They studied a group of high school graduates and contacted them on their 65th birthdays. They found that fewer of those who had volunteered died over a period of four years from this time.
It’s thought that the main reasons for the longer lives of volunteers are stress reduction, self confidence and positivity.
Jenny Collins works for Frontier, an NGO dedicated to safeguarding biodiversity and ecosystem integrity, and building sustainable livelihoods for marginalised communities in the world’s poorest countries. Check out their Gap Year Blog for more from Frontier.