Volunteer Abroad: Programs to Consider

So many of us are hit with the travel bug these days, and why not act on it? There are tons of beautiful places to discover around the world – from the African Sahara to the rainf
orests of Costa Rica. And with the ability to travel anywhere far and wide, we should act on it – but why not travel with a purpose? Volunteering abroad is a great way to learn about different cultures in the country you’re visiting, and it gives you a chance to help people who live in the community. Here are a few great programs to consider when volunteering abroad:

Melissa Keroack Costa RicaIVHQ: Costa Rica

First is IVHQ, which has dozens of partner organizations in Costa Rica and are always on the hunt for dedicated volunteers. The best part about these programs is that they’re very affordable – around $300 each! You can choose from a variety of fields that spark your interest, including teaching, construction, and environmental preservation. Another plus about this program is that you can take discounted SPanish lessons and you have the opportunity to sign up for a program that lasts either 1 week, or 24 weeks. There’s no better way to learn about the beauty of Costa Rica and its people than through IVHQ’s volunteer programs.

African Impact: South Africa

South Africa is also home to a multitude of volunteer programs. African Impact is leaMelissa Keroack South Africading volunteer organization that hosts diverse community projects, some of which include: HIV/Aids awareness, sports development, health care, and orphan care. As a volunteer with African Impact you can also contribute to the conservation of Africa’s wildlife through various research and conservation projects. These projects include: the study of the Great White Shark, Cheetah rehabilitation, and various volunteer opportunities and animal shelters. South Africa is home to some of the most beautiful scenery, loving people, and magnificent wildlife that you can become involved with by volunteering abroad.

Melissa Keroack ThailandVolunteering Solutions Programs: Thailand

Another great volunteer program takes places in Thailand and is called the Volunteering Solutions Programs, which offers programs in many of Thailand’s cities, including: Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Koh Samui, and Surin. Volunteers can get involved with elephant conservation, teaching children in schools and orphanages, and working in health care. With beautiful beaches, ancient temples, and delicious food, it’s no wonder Thailand is such a popular travel destination. And you can make it your next one by signing up with the Volunteering Solutions Programs – you’ll be sure to find a program that meets all your interests and travel expectations.

For more information on various volunteering programs abroad, please visit GoOverseas.com where you can read about a wide range of both traveling and volunteer opportunities.


Academics & Community Service: A Positive Relationship

Throughout the years, there have been many studies that prove community service and academic success have a positive relationship with each other. Despite the more obvious benefits of community service, such as helping those in need and raising money for specific charity events and philanthropic causes, the increase in students who show improvement or impressive statistics within their academic career is uncanny.

Melissa KeroackAn article published by the University of Michigan notes that students involved in volunteerism are the ones that need and receive the most gain. According to the article, “Community service provides the critical missing link for many students, an opportunity to apply academic learning to real human needs and to make the knowledge gained usable in one’s thinking beyond the situation in which the learning occurred,” (Benefits of Student Participation in Community Service).

This original information was provided by a study performed by researcher Diane Hedin in 1989, that ultimately concluded that service learning “provides students with the motivation necessary to put forth effort in academics, it gives them more opportunities to integrate and elaborate on their knowledge, and it increases the likelihood of transferring theoretical knowledge to actual practice,”(Benefits of Student Participation in Community Service). This initial lack of motivation, according to Hedin, is one of the main problems that leads students into academic failure or the inability to do well and complete courses.

In addition, students who actively participate in community service increase their personal, interpersonal, and social development. An article published in 2000 written by Shelley Billing of the RMC Research Corporation concluded that not only did community service lead to an increase in academic motivation, but it also led to increases in student engagement, school attendance, and new perspectives on lifestyle choices and behavior.

To read more about the positive benefits that community service has on academic achievement based on studies performed across the globe, please read the University of Michigan’s article here.

Why You Should Volunteer

Psychology Today published an article, 5 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer, back in March of 2014 about why volunteering should be an important part of everyone’s schedule. Since the time it was written, certain facts about volunteering rates may have changed, but the overall positive reinforcement that volunteering brings to our own lives remains the same. Here’s a look at what the article said about why everyone should volunteer regularly:

First, volunteering increases longevity. Volunteers are not only happier, but studies have shown that they are healthier than those who do not volunteer. According to the article, “During later life, volunteering is even more beneficial for one’s health than exercising and eating well. Older people who volunteer remain physically functional longer, have more robust psychological well-being and live longer,” (Psychology Today, 5 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer). That being said, most of the senior-level volunteers did volunteer earlier in life.

Melissa Keroack volunteer-11Volunteering also shows to have a positive impact on your career. Those who volunteer are more often to make more money because of the strong relationship they make through volunteer work. Volunteering can help you meet clients, future employees, and even help steer you in a career path that you’ve always wanted to go down. These social connections are effective ways to learn about different industries, and can increase the amount of publicity your own company receives.

Next, to state an obvious fact about volunteering – it’s good for society! Many business and small organization rely on a strong volunteer force to be successful. According to Psychology Today, “Places like museums, social service organizations, and faith-based organizations often rely on more volunteers than paid workers to meet their goals and fulfill their mission. These business are committed to doing good things for society,” (5 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer).

Lastly, volunteering makes you feel good. Those who volunteer have better self esteem because volunteering gives you a sense of purpose in life. Because volunteering involves working for a purpose instead of for money, people devote their time to issues they really care about – thus they feel happier that they have made a difference for a cause that hits close to their hearts.

There’s no question that volunteering should be an activity that everyone participates in. For more information on where to volunteer, or what types of organizations you should get involved with, read this article here.

Show Some HART

HART stands for Homeless Animal Rescue Team, a nonprofit organization located in Cumberland, Maine that serves as a shelter and adoption center for cats. HART was founded by Eileen Smith in 1997 when she renovated a barn on her property in Maine and turned it into a rescue shelter.

melissa keroack HART

Throughout the years, many volunteers joined up with her to help with the animals. In 1999, Eileen moved to a different state but the organization continued and volunteers took on the responsibilities of running the shelter and helping the cats. Now, HART is a well known private shelter and adoption center that is licensed in Maine and contains an assortment of 80 volunteers who are dedicated to helping save the lives of cats. The new construction of the shelter was built in 2004 and was custom designed to cater to the cats. The inside of the shelter includes climbing structures, beds, and various places to feed the cats. This open-environment allows the cats to live a happy, healthy lifestyle and create bonds with each other.

melissa keroack HARTcat

HART is run only by kind-hearted volunteers who are passionate about providing shelter for these cats and saving their lives. Some duties of these volunteers include providing the cats with medical services, nourishing the cats, neutering the them, finding them homes, and raising income for the organization by networking to foundations and individuals. All cats at HART are tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus and are vaccinated as soon as possible. Before a cat is given to its new owner, HART volunteers make sure that the cat is neutered and vaccinated for various diseases including rabies.

If you love cats and want to help out this incredible nonprofit organization, check out their website and find out ways you can help.