An international volunteering program is a type of service abroad program. It combines immersion, education, and travel through service. Volunteering abroad allows for all the traveling abroad advantages with the added benefit of supporting sustainable growth in a diverse community.
Because volunteer programs have a basis in service, students are able to travel to a variety of countries to work on something they are uniquely passionate about. AMIGOS immersion volunteer programs cover a wide range of topics, including:
• Environmental sustainability
• Supporting local microenterprise
• Wildlife and nature conservation
• Community and environmental health
• Arts and cultural education
• Youth empowerment
This diversity in volunteering means you have the opportunity to fulfill a dream you’re passionate about or the chance to try something new. Either way, you can make an impact!
Life is more than your hometown. While it’s great to love where you’re from, it’s important to realize the world is large and interconnected. We all have something to learn from one another. Volunteer programs give you the opportunity to become a global citizen: someone who cares about people, culture, and the environment on a global scale and are actively seeking to improve it. Global citizenship helps individuals gain a better sense of self and where they belong in the world.
“The main thing that I learned from my AMIGOS experience is that people can be so different from you—they can speak a different language, they can be from a different country, they can be farmers in rural areas—but on the inside, we all have the same hopes and dreams.” –Eli, AMIGOS Alumnus
Volunteering abroad means not being a passive tourist who merely glances at the world around them. Young people in volunteer programs are active in their travels and are dedicated to making a positive social impact on the world. This global advocacy allows each volunteer to develop a lifestyle dedicated to global development and civil justice.
Traveling to a new and exciting place is an adventure all its own! Volunteer abroad programs allow for you to experience this excitement firsthand. Because AMIGOS programs are immersive and take place over longer periods of time, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the world around you through hands-on experiences. You’ll get to know parts of the world people only dream of, and you’ll participate in thrilling excursions and outings when you’re not in your host community.
With a volunteer program, you’ll be actively involved in the lives of others through service. It is through this involvement, and learning about other cultures, that we gain better insight into ourselves as individuals. It teaches us compassion and helps us put ourselves in other people’s shoes. This helps open your eyes, mind, and heart to the world around you. Studies have even shown that being empathetic can help people feel more connected with others, thrive in relationships, and become better leaders.
“To me, AMIGOS is an opportunity for growth and for a lot of learning. It’s definitely a cross-cultural immersion more than just work here, and you really spend a lot of time learning about the culture and learning about the people, and so it’s really a chance to grow and learn more about yourself.” –Julian, AMIGOS alumnus
Not only will a volunteer program help with your personal growth, it can also give you an unmatched opportunity to develop professionally. You’ll gain a vast array of valuable skills and global competencies that put you at a competitive advantage in the career landscape. Potential employers appreciate hiring individuals with the skills and integrity to challenge themselves out of their comfort zone, which is exactly what an AMIGOS program will do for you.
Everyone is aware of other cultures, but an authentic, immersive experience helps you value and appreciate them firsthand. You’ll immerse yourself in local food, art, music, and traditions, building perspective and appreciation along the way.
The experiences that come with helping others in an environment entirely new are truly unique. Take it from Emma, a previous AMIGOS Gap Program volunteer, who states; “The things you will learn and experience, the relationships you will build, and the joy and love you will feel are irreplaceable and will remain with you through the rest of your life.”