Friday, February 13, 2009

Selecting the "right" program

(Adapted from the publication “How to Live Your Dream of Volunteering Overseas”)

In addition to the country and type of work you would like to participate in, there are many other factors to consider in choosing a program that is right for you. We cannot guarantee the quality or level of responsibility of the organizations listed on this website, so it is important to ask for the names and numbers of returned volunteers to learn about their experiences first-hand.

First, take a moment to reflect upon your own motivations for volunteering abroad:

  • Why do you want to become an international volunteer?
  • What people, events, and experiences have led to your interest in volunteering abroad?
  • What do you hope to get out of the experience?
  • What do you hope to contribute?
  • How do you see international volunteering affecting your life?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
While there is not just one ‘right’ reason to volunteer abroad, it is important to realize that different motivations can led to different types of service. We caution against wanting ‘solve other people’s problems’ or ‘fix things’, as too often this (more)

What questions should I ask my program?

Other factors to consider in choosing a program include:

Duration and Time of Year
Type of Volunteer Organization
Other Considerations


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Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.