This blog would be ridiculously long if we were to tell you all of the amazing reasons why you should incorporate volunteerism into your life. Not only are you doing your part by rescuing animals, restoring nature and/or empowering youth, but you are also helping to foster your own personal growth through these life-enhancing experiences. Below are, in our humble opinion, the very best ways to make the most of your volunteer experience, whether during this summer or throughout the rest of your life.

Choose the Right Project

High school students pose with their local family in Sicily on their service program to Italy.

When considering which type of service project is best for you, take the time to think about what you are passionate about. Volunteering is immensely enjoyable though at times can also be very difficult work. If you dream of hanging with baby sloths, chilling out with pandas or giving elephants a bath, then service projects with a focus on animal welfare are probably best for you. If you love teaching others new activities such as sports or languages, then volunteering with kids is probably right up your alley. Maybe you love nature and want to do your part to help clean up the natural environment and teach others how to keep it that way. No matter which type of project you decide to do, you will leave the world a little bit better than you found it, and that’s what really counts.

Do Your Research

A teen takes a photo with a local and a goat on their summer travel program in Peru.

Once you have decided on the type of service that you are most interested in pursuing, do plenty of research before you depart. Go the extra mile by learning about the community that you are going to work with. Learn about their customs, their food, their language and anything else that you can think of. As with any type of traveling that you do, the locals will admire your efforts to no end! Pre-departure research about particular issues will also give you a deeper understanding of the root of the problem and the ways that you can continue to stay involved long after you have finished your service project.

Learning the Lingo

Students participate in service activities with local teens on Tanzania summer program.

Combining foreign language studies with your service work is an awesome way to truly integrate yourself into the communities that you are helping. It is one of the sincerest and most beautiful ways to learn about people and their lives in the communities where you will volunteer. It’s also a fantastic way to improve your foreign language skills or to get a crash course in a whole new language that you might otherwise not have had the opportunity to learn.

Food for Thought

Students participate in conservation service projects with sea turtles on their summer travel program in Hawaii.

Remember that travel journal that you asked for as a stocking stuffer? Well, now it’s time to bust it out and put it to good use! Write, write, write. You will encounter so many new and incredible experiences every single day during your service project and you will not want to forget a moment. It’s also a great way to reflect upon the circumstances that you are seeing firsthand and for you and your fellow volunteers to brainstorm innovative solutions for how to continue to improve the service work that you are doing.

Future Investment

Teen boy makes a new friend during summer service program in Costa Rica.

By participating in service projects, you are not only giving invaluable help to those in need, but you are also providing yourself with priceless experiences. These experiences will shape you as a person not only in the eyes of family and friends but also in the classroom and even on into your adult life. Universities admire applicants who are avid volunteers and the attributes gained during service projects are also something that employers seek when hiring people. Not only this, but if you continue to invest your time into helping make the world a little bit better than you found it, the return on your investment will continue for the rest of your life as these experiences expand your heart, soul, and mind.


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