planning to volunteer? ask questions – expect answers!

By Kate Stefanko. Filed in good and bad practice, volunteer stories  |  
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how very refreshing – a 16-year old High School student who is already working hard on the idea of overseas volunteering in projects abroad … well done Joseph … keep up the good work!

“I’m currently a 16 year old high school student living in California writing to you to inquire about the possibility of volunteering abroad as a minor in High School. I was wondering If you could provide me with some information as to going about doing so. I really do have a passion for helping others, and I try to use it through volunteering as much as I can in my community.

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“Recently I’ve started to look into the process of volunteering abroad after hearing experiences from friends doing so … I was hooked. The thought of getting to go to a new environment and get a look into a whole new culture, while getting to help those in need.

“As I furthered my research however, I learned about some of the unfortunate truths about volunteering abroad. That many of these organizations charge absurd amounts of money for the opportunity to work on short-term projects that often provide little long-term solutions to many of these communities in need. Seeing how these trips are set up almost as vacations where inexperienced youth go on trips and fail to accomplish any sort of substantial results. I was hugely disappointed to say the least, wondering if there was still a way that I could have the opportunity to travel and make an impact, big or small there. After scouring the web looking through articles and reviews, I stumbled across your organization, hearing that it exists as one of the most reliable and trustworthy networks for people to want to make a difference and not see their money going towards a vacation, instead being used on-site to the people who are working to help the community.

“At the same time, I do recognize the inherent complications in doing so. I’m not a doctor, electrician, carpenter, social worker, or any sort of professional that could achieve a specific objective. I’m just a teenager with a few years of local volunteering experience at Churches, shelters, and food banks that’s extremely interested in traveling and volunteering, hoping I can make those two go hand in hand. Why I am writing to you is to ask if your network offers projects that minors can participate in or know of any other reputable and trusted organizations that do. I see it as an amazing and potentially life changing opportunity, keen to finding one that can be beneficial to both me and said community. Literally, and advice, information, or comments would be of great help.”

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