No, You Don’t Have To Be A Teenager To Volunteer Abroad!
By Eric Biglari
That whole “Volunteering is only for youngsters” thing is just a stereotype. In fact, there are so many reasons to give your time and effort to a country that needs it – even if you have few extra years under your belt. You have nothing to lose and much to gain by volunteering abroad.
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.”
– Jackson Brown Jr.
Don’t believe the Stereotype!
So many people think to themselves “Ahhh, I would’ve loved to volunteer abroad, I’m just too old now…” Like most of us, you have probably seen photos in articles about volunteering abroad and noticed a lot of the people in them tend to look young.
Of course, there are going to be thousands of high school or college-aged volunteers heading overseas, but rest assured, there will also be a lot of “older” people making the all-important journey as well.
Don’t let the ridiculous stereotype get into your head; even if the requirements for a volunteer program require a minimum age of 18, trust me, there is no maximum. You don’t have to be a fresh college graduate to spend time in another country doing helpful acts of kindness. In fact, it is better if you have life experience when you’re volunteering – it provides a certain level of awareness, understanding, and maturity.
Let’s dive into some of the reasons why volunteering at an older age isn’t such a bad idea after all…
You have more Skills than a Teenager
You’re done with school and have had work experience…. As a result, you have developed a solid skillset – whether it’s high-level skills like marketing, engineering, medical work, or writing, or soft skills such as leadership, strong work ethic, or a positive attitude.
Rather than trying things and learning from your mistakes, you can head into your volunteering experience with a strong base of knowledge that will allow you to quickly adjust and take on a bigger role.
Here are a couple of skills that are currently in high demand by volunteer organizations:
- Educational work – Having experience in the education field is perfect when you need to volunteer with kids, teach languages, or train other teachers.
- Medical work – There is a huge need for people who provide medical support or clinical services, especially when it comes to maternal-child health issues and women’s health.
- Business / Finance – Having a business background is terrific as it allows you to share your business acumen, advise financial institutions, mentor startups, and help with overall business development.
- Biology / Veterinary – This is perfect when it comes to helping conservation organizations in regards to improving the health and safety of wildlife.
- Administrative – Skills like accounting, social media management, or translating are vital to countless organizations.
- Civil or Environmental Engineering – A lot of organizations need help with fixing infrastructure, urban planning, digging wells, or overseeing construction projects.
- Disaster relief – There are rarely enough people ready to give their time in moments when it is needed the most. Being able to deploy during a natural disaster can save countless lives.
- Whatever experience you have had professionally, there is no limit to the opportunities you will have as a volunteer – that’s for certain!
What’s the right fit for me?
Trying something out just to see if it’s the right fit for you can be great when shopping for clothes, but it’s not really the best way to contribute to volunteer projects. It’s important to choose something that makes you happy and contented.
For example, if you know you would be happier in a city environment rather than a village environment then that’s where you’re more likely to have a project that’s a better fit for you. It’s very similar to a job hunt; the situation must be a good fit for both yourself and the organization you’re joining…
You have more people in your Circle
It is quite an honorable act to volunteer your time for the betterment of society…but just think of the effects it will have if you tell people back home about your experience. Doing so will not only move them but also encourage them to volunteer as well.
It will be so beneficial to not only share your experience with your immediate friends and family but to a wider pool of potential participants. That way, the cycle just carries on, leading to a better outcome for the planet as a whole – and there’s nothing more satisfying than that.
You’ve likely been Accustomed to Traveling
An overlooked aspect of volunteering at an older age is the fact that you have most likely already traveled before and will be able to adjust more easily in a foreign country.
You will expect some culture shock and be better able to deal with it and you will know how to communicate better. Maybe you have already been to the country you’re volunteering in. Every bit of this will be an advantage to you and will help you jumpstart your volunteer experience.
So… Don’t believe the stereotype that volunteering is only for high school or college students. By all means, use age to your advantage – in fact, your impact will likely be stronger than that of a teenager. Bringing your skills and expertise to an organization that’s a good fit is what’s most important.
Take my word for it – You’re never, ever too old to volunteer.
<< One of the great things about Armenia: Respect for age and the easy mix of old and young. So volunteer – in your twenties or seventies, or any age. You’ll be welcomed and rewarded! >>
~ Linda Shahinian & Herb Schiff
If you are older than 30 and want to make a lasting impact by volunteering abroad, visit our website and Apply now! There is no upper age limit. We offer so many opportunities no matter your age or background. Contact us if you have any questions, our job is to help you every step of the way. Come Move Mountains with Armenian Volunteers Corps.