Reasons to include volunteering in your expat experience

Published:  31 Jul at 6 PM
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Out of the estimated 50 million expats living outside their home countries, how many are sharing their talents and abilities by volunteering?

Expats come in all shapes, sizes and levels of expertise across all sectors, with many sharing their expertise as volunteers and learning about local culture and traditional wisdom at the same time. As the world continues dividing into the haves and the have-nots, those who wish to help are joining with locals in an effort to share their knowledge and experience in a way which benefits people and the planet itself. Placements are usually chosen to suit expat interests, whether in education, animal welfare, healthcare or any other field.

Expats with long experience of volunteering appreciate the fact that getting to know other cultures broadens their own experience in many ways. For example, medical professionals may discover traditional local remedies with far fewer side-effects than conventional medicines. Others find joy in interactions which emphasise the importance of lifetime learning in cultures where schooling leaves a lot to be desired. Teaching English in developing countries is another favourite volunteer activity, especially where local teachers don’t have the necessary skills.

Volunteering as an expat isn’t just all about giving, with receiving playing a big part in the experience. Making new friends who’ve grown up in a totally different culture can open expat eyes to many realities they weren’t aware of when they first arrived, leading to an exchange of views beneficial to both. The process also helps the volunteers themselves to find out more about their own strengths and how to use them in daily life, thus helping their growth both as a person and as a professional.
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