It can be helpful, while navigating a difficult time, to have that bright spot on the horizon. Using this time to daydream, research, and plan a trip volunteering abroad might be just the ticket. Instructor Joyce Major shared with us what students will take away from her class, 'Travel the World Volunteering', and her own takeaways from a decade of volunteering abroad.
Are your students already well-traveled individuals or are they new to the experience of being abroad?
The class is typically a blend of students of all ages from their 20s up through their 60s. In all age groups, some have done very little travel out of the country like me when I started. Others have done more but only as tourists. There are generally a few who are well-traveled having lived in other countries or traveled to many places. If we're lucky, we get students from other countries, some Au pairs, too, which always makes for interesting discussions.
In general, what are some of the challenges people hoping to volunteer abroad might face?
Perhaps, adjusting to a different culture is the most difficult task. Things like food, time, weather will be different. Also, the organization of the group may be different than our way of organizing here. How does this culture work and how do they relax? Learning to spot where help is needed rather than being told. And of course, communication even if in English, will offer challenges.
What advice to you have for students regarding restrictions on travel and concerns over the virus?
I think the best advice I have for people planning a trip is to start planning now and just see how things clear up. I took two years to plan my one-year trip around the world and that gave me a chance to investigate and ask questions and make good choices. It seems like we are about a year off before travel is not as restricted.
For you, what has been most fulfilling about volunteering abroad?
In the last 10 years, it's been very consistent. I love helping at a variety of projects and to learn about their issues! To discover how to make things easier or improve a situation. There is so much to learn about conservation issues and to be surrounded by passionate people. Each day I learn about other cultures because I am spending time with caring people. I have a chance to converse, to ask questions and to laugh. The result of my volunteering is that I now have a wonderful view of the world and the many people working to make it a better place. I can think of a country that I have volunteered in and picture a new friend, a tough experience that I overcame, and a child that I laughed with. Regardless of what is in the news, I have the backstory about people helping people.
What can your students look forward to taking away from your class?
I will give them the tools to find a project that suits their dreams and their wallets in a country they want to travel to. I can help them with what to expect, how to be an excellent volunteer, finding good airfares and even all the little extras like health insurance, shots, visas and what to do if you are leaving for a year. I have many students who are out in the world volunteering now and love hearing from them about their magnificent adventures.
What students can expect from your class now that it’s being offered via Zoom?
One of the benefits to having a class on Zoom is that I’ve been able to interview people around the world who have volunteer projects. I will play those interviews during our classes. It should make for a lively and informative class.
Instructor Joyce Major started with a year-long trip around the world volunteering, and has never looked back. Joyce now teaches others how to find volunteer projects around the world while making their travel dreams a reality. Learn more about Joyce’s class, 'Travel the World Volunteering', and start planning your next adventure!