Advanced Volunteering

Lesson 10: Some final tips for successful volunteer work

Lesson 10 Chapter 3

Free time

A lot of volunteers experience a mismatch between their expectations and reality. This often has something to do with the amount of work available at a project. For example, volunteers who expect to work full days, become disappointed when they only have half a day of work to do. Or the slow pace of life can bring frustration when volunteers do not expect to have much free time. Be aware that this might happen to you too!

Social media and blogs

You might want to use social media platforms or blogs to share your experiences as a volunteer. When using these platforms the power is in your hands. You control the narrative, therefore, try and create an empowering one. 

Before taking and sharing pictures of the local people of the community, consider how you would feel in their situation. Would the locals want that part of their lives to be showcased? Furthermore, you should always try and seek the permission of the locals before taking photos.

Avoid sharing only pictures and stories about poor circumstances without also showing positive developments in the country. For example only showing pictures like the ones below might reinforce stereotypes.

Preparations: Money

Some practical tips to help you prepare for your volunteer trip:

  1. 1
    Bank card - To be able to get cash from the ATM abroad, you might have to switch your bank card to world coverage.
  2. 2
    Credit card - In a lot of countries it can be useful to have a credit card. This might sometimes be the only way to make a payment. 
  3. 3
    Cash money - Be careful of carrying too much cash. If you have a lot of cash money, make sure you store it in different places.

Preparations: What to pack

  1. 1
    Clothes - Carefully decide which kind of clothes are culturally appropriate to wear. In many countries that means clothes covering your knees and shoulders. Also make sure you bring clothes that match the season. In many places it can, for example, cool down significantly during the evenings. 
  2. 2
    Don't bring too much! - In the capital city or other main cities you can usually find almost everything you need. So don’t worry about forgetting things!
  3. 3
    Do not bring too many things to give to people - You do not know exactly what they need and you might bring things which are easily available in the country itself. If you want to bring something, think of a speciality from your home country, so you can give people a glimpse of your own culture. 

next lesson: your results and volunteer resumé