Community Services Abroad

The Opportunities of Community Services

Are you tired of the rigorous daily grind of the private sector working life? Are you interested in getting involved with something that is more rewarding, where it feels like you are making a legitimate contribution to the well-being of others? Many individuals who answer “yes” when faced with these questions are looking at opportunities to get involved with community service abroad. For an increasing number of people, participating in community services abroad offers them the opportunity to fulfill a number of different objectives—travel and new experiences coupled with the opportunity to participate in something socially productive and fulfilling.

If you are considering looking into community services abroad, this article is a useful point of departure. It seeks to provide some background information on how to go about looking for community service opportunities in other countries. Once you have an idea of the basics, further searching on the internet can help identify some potential organizations and furnish you with more detailed information on what to expect and how to go about it. But to begin with, a simple checklist might include:

- Location—where you want to go
- Participation—what you want to do
- Finding an organization—connecting with the right people

Location and Participation

For some people, the first question when considering volunteering in community services abroad is whether there is a particular destination in which they would like to work. This depends very much on the individual—whether you have a connection with a particular place due to a prior visit, have family or roots in certain places or just the desire to experience a certain culture, location can be an important consideration. Climate is one consideration, as many countries that are community service volunteer destinations have dramatically different weather than the United Kingdom. Safety can be another concern—some places abroad are more stable than others, so depending on your degree of risk aversion, you may wish to consider different locations

Participation in community services is another important consideration—you should consider which programs or organizations you find most appealing. This may depend on your background, experiences, training, or areas of interest. Community services covers a very wide range of programs, but might include public health, education, basic needs such as food and shelter, rural livelihood enhancement, even creative endeavors that encourage participation in the arts.

Finding an organization

Once you have an idea of where abroad you are interested in travelling, and the type of initiatives you are interested in working with, the next step is to identify potential organizations to volunteer with. There are two basic choices for community service work abroad:

- Work with a domestic organization that offers services abroad. This can be a good choice if it is your first time volunteering in community services, as you can meet and organize at home, and typically well established channels already exist

- Work with an international or foreign organization operating in the country you would like to work in. This may provide more options for you to identify a specific program of interest, as you are not confined to domestic organizations.

Regardless of your choice, be sure to research the organization thoroughly to ensure its legitimacy.