Volunteering abroad promotes personal and professional development. It is also, an efficient way to build respect for other ideas and ways of life, both locally and globally.

Key points of volunteer work:

New Experiences-
Living amongst new cultures will present opportunities and challenges; from meeting different groups of people, to trying authentic ethnic foods, and exploring local cultural activities. Approaching situations with a "servant" and "learner" point of view will open the doors to endless and unexpected experiences. Although already existing skills and knowledge can help you in your volunteer time, being open help and learn more things along the way is not only righteous, it also nurtures your sense of adventure.

Social and Relationship Skills-
Volunteering gives you the opportunity to practice and develop your social skills. Some people are more outgoing than others but, surrounding yourself with people who share common interests and are committed to a shared activity will help you to be more social and assertive, making it easier to make new friends and contacts.

Community and Team-work-
Organizing events and working with people with a common goal will strengthen your ties to the community. It seems simple, but existing cultural differences when working as a team, is a challenge in itself. Being able to see past these differences and focus on our common humanity will help you work successfully and respectfully with people whose background is different from yours. Moreover, by engaging with the locals, and hearing about their struggles and current needs, you would be practicing receptiveness- which is another critical skill for effective community and team-work.

Leadership and Sense of Achievement-
Being able to see outside of yourself and catering to the needs of others builds strong leadership skills, enhances your team-work skills, and might even give you a sense of purpose. Taking initiative and making a contribution to a local project will enhance your self-esteem and your sense of achievement.

Boosts Career Options-
Whether you are looking for a job or applying for college, volunteering abroad makes you more marketable. Employers and schools often look for mature and well-rounded candidates. For example, many students tend to only focus on their academics and internships and they often neglect the value of volunteering and how much their resume can benefit from these experiences.

Adaptability and Problem-Solving-
Being able to adapt to challenging situations and to accept that the local people are in charge is the biggest lesson a volunteer will learn. It is important to remember that the "servant" is not a problem-solver. Although many people who want to volunteer have been trained as problem-solvers, it is important to remember the community's priorities before anything else. As volunteers and local people work hand-in hand and learn from and about each other, they will also discover that we are far more alike than we are different. Consequently, this might make the process of adaptability easier.

The inevitable mind shift in that happens with international volunteering opens up a world of opportunities. A higher level of understanding and responsibility for our interconnected world is achieved. At the same time, volunteers walk away from these experiences with skills that ensure job advancement. This is particularly crucial in our current competitive employment market.

...the benefits to volunteers are immense. Studies show that volunteering gives you a renewed sense of purpose and direction, creates stronger social connections and makes you happier and healthier - not just mentally, but physically. In fact, one study shows a longer life expectancy associated with volunteering than even exercising or attending regular religious service.