19 Ways That Volunteering Overseas Will Change You

VSO International

VSO international is is the world’s leading independent international development organisation that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries.

This is a guest blog post by VSO International. MovingWorlds has partnered with VSO to feature some of their impact projects for Experteers. See our VSO Partner page for a list of projects.

VSO international is is the world’s leading independent international development organization that works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries. VSO’s high-impact approach involves bringing people together to share skills, build capabilities, promote international understanding and action, and change lives to make the world a fairer place for all.

Volunteering changes lives.

When we volunteer, we want to help improve the lives of the people who need it most – but it’s a two-way street. Volunteering is all about collaboration: teaching, learning, speaking, listening and working together to help make the world a better place.

It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do. You’ll gain new knowledge and skills, and it will change the way you see the world forever. And scientific research proves it also makes you happier.

Beyond making you happier, here are 19 ways that volunteering will have a profound effect on you.

1. You’ll discover new skills you never thought you had.

Image of volunteering in agricultural projects
Volunteering in agricultural projects

You’ll find that you’re using new skills to tackle new situations every day – and you’ll probably be better at it than you think!


2. Your confidence will grow every day.

Image of Volunteering your skills in a new setting
Volunteering your skills in a new setting

Sometimes success depends of having a bit of nerve – but you’ll never regret putting yourself out there.


3. You realise that progress is only possible by working together.

Volunteering with local changemakers overseas
Volunteering with local changemakers overseas

Working together with locals, experts and other volunteers makes the results much more than the sum of their parts.


4. You will become more patient. More laid back.

Image of volunteering overseas and making new friends
Volunteering overseas and making new friends

Being “on time” may become more subjective.


5. You will eat some of the most incredible food – but never be able to re-create it.

Image of eating amazing local food while volunteering overseas
Eat amazing local food while volunteering overseas

You’ll never master injera, vada or sticky rice in quite the same way. But that’s okay – you’ll just have to go back!


6. You may try some food that you will never wish to recreate!

Eat interesting food while volunteering
Eat interesting food while volunteering

Some things are best left as memories – but at least you can say you tried it.


7. You will realize you have skills and strengths you never knew

image of volunteering skills  overseas
Volunteering your skills oversease

You’ll face challenges you’ve never faced before. By partnering with locals, you will create innovative solutions and realize you had strengths.

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8. You’ll experience new emotions, and become stronger as a result

Work through your emotions and become stronger while volunteering

But at the end of the day, you’ll sleep all the more soundly in the knowledge that you’ve given it your all.


9. You care less about the labels on your clothes and care more about who made them and under what conditions.

Image of artisan women community
Volunteering to support artisan communities around the world

Better for your wardrobe, better for the people, better for the world.


10. …In fact, you will probably care less about your personal appearance entirely. You’ll also care less about what people think.

Image of people having fun while volunteering
New experience while volunteering?

Suddenly, spending hours in front of a mirror doesn’t seem all that important when there’s a big, wide world to see.


11. What you do – opposed to what you earn – may become more important to you.

Image of medical volunteering
Using your skills to train locals while volunteering

Nothing shifts your priorities quite like seeing the real impact of your work on the people who need it most.


12. You may become a very adept motorcyclist, and even develop a life-long interest.

Image of man motorcycling
Motorcycling overseas

It’s just the best way to get around! The bus will seem very pedestrian after your time zipping about on a scooter.


13. You may find you regularly start up conversations with strangers on public transport.

Images of local transporation
Images of local transportation

Staring at your phone with your earbuds in is just not how it’s done ‘round here.


14. You get used to going to bed and getting up with the sun.

Images of connecting into local community while volunteering
Connecting into local community while volunteering

No more alarm clocks, just the sunrise and the dawn chorus.


15. …Especially when you wake up to views like this:

Image of natural beauty seen while volunteering
Natural beauty seen while volunteering

Getting up at the crack of dawn definitely has its benefits.


16. You will make life-long friends.

Image of making friends while volunteering
Making friends while volunteering

Volunteers make friends all over the world, and there’s no friendships quite like the ones you make on placement.


17. Your home may not feel like ‘home’ any more.

Image of what home can look like when volunteering overseas
What home can look like when volunteering overseas

Find your home away from home, and feel like you belong anywhere in the world.


18. You’ll spend a lot of time convincing others to volunteer.

Image of convincing others to volunteer
Convincing others to volunteer

When something’s this valuable, rewarding and life-changing for everyone involved – why wouldn’t you want to share it around?


19. You’ll come back a different person – and that’s okay!

Image of volunteering changing you
Volunteering changes you forever

VSO work to improve health, education and livelihoods for some of the world’s most vulnerable communities. We know from experience that volunteering changes lives – find out how you can change yours by checking out our current opportunities here.

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