This week’s guest post has been written by Zofia Baldyga – an experienced international volunteer who believes the best part of volunteering is the opportunity to gain new skills!
Volunteering has a lot advantages. It’s a great way to travel on budget, a perfect way to meet new people, a fantastic way to cope with language barriers. Each and every angle of volunteering might be a reason for someone to embark on a such an adventure; for me however I volunteer as a way of gaining new skills.
I had my first volunteering experience back in 2007. I was a 19-year-old Polish girl, who wanted to travel solo and who went to volunteer in Ukraine without even learning a local alphabet. Silly, right? I decided to apply and go because I wanted to explore the country, meet new people and do something “different”. Back then I didn’t think about one particular aspect of volunteering; something which seems to be very crucial to me in 2013.
That’s right ladies and gentleman; gaining new skills!
I’m a 25-year-old female Polish NGO worker and freelance translator. An avid short-term volunteer, I took part several different projects in Poland, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Ukraine and Armenia. Nothing impressive. Usually I was choosing projects with kids or those dedicated to arts and crafts. The professional in me was looking for projects to which my skills could contribute. The adventurous part of me wanted to benefit. To try something I never had an opportunity to do before.
I’m a 25-year-old female Polish NGO worker and freelance translator and I painted roofs in Open Air Museum in Pereyaslav in Ukraine. I renovated a Gothic castle in Western Bohemia, Czech Republic. I collected herbs in southern Czech Republic and learnt how to make herbal tea out of them. Big city girls don’t have this opportunity very often! I did, and I’m not any-one special.
Have you never volunteered before but dreaming about it? Are you itching to learn something new? If there is a skill you want to gain and there is a will to step further, it’s gonna be really simple. Trust me!
As international volunteering is becoming more and more popular there are plenty of projects you can take part in. Some of the hosting organizations charge pretty high fees, but if you keep searching there are projects you can find for free, and organizations who will cover nearly all your expenses. A wide variety of projects means that being a volunteer today could mean doing anything. Think about what you want to do first.
A volunteer is someone who works to benefit others, to contribute to a community. Volunteers make dreams work. Today, however volunteering is an industry where you as the volunteer can have input into HOW you want to contribute. It’s time for you to make YOUR dreams work while benefitting others at the same time!
Everything here clicks. The recipe is very simple. Think about the skill you want to gain, find a project which enables you to do it, go and gain the skill. It’s that easy. I’m a living proof!
There are two paths skill-oriented volunteers might follow. The adventurous and the professional.
The adventurer in you might be eager to try something completely new, like, let’s say, construction work in the middle of a jungle or working in a zoological garden in Ukraine. All of this is doable. You just need to choose your project and research a bit.
Then there is a second way to go – volunteering as a way to make your CV look better. There are projects which allow you to actually develop skills you need to be competitive and competent in your professional field. There are a huge number of host organizations which offer skill-based placements. They might have an opportunities ranging from an engineer to a firefighter. I, an NGO worker specialized in international migration issues, found a perfect match in Armenia thanks to Armenian Volunteer Corps. Everything is possible as you see. Is there a will? A way will be found too.
Remember: Those who can do more, volunteer. ~Author Unknown