What the Best Volunteer Abroad Programs Can Do for You

A lot of people — especially young people — are motivated by the desire to make a difference, and do something important with their lives. And why shouldn’t you be? Wanting to make a positive impact, no matter how small, is an admirable goal. The challenge comes with figuring out how exactly to accomplish this.

It is can be easy to fulfill this desire by taking part in volunteer opportunities through programs that are only surface level. This kind of experience has often been dubbed “voluntourism,” and as such, it is something that the best volunteer abroad programs will avoid.

But with all the programs out there for students in high school to volunteer abroad, how do you choose what's best?

The best way to choose a gap year program is to make sure that you have the right priorities going into your decision making process. Be wary of any organization that promises you seemingly grand rewards like the opportunity to change the world or solve poverty on your trip.

Global Citizen Year prioritizes depth and connection to help our Fellows have the best experience possible. Just read a few stories from previous fellows to see why. What makes Global Citizen Year go beyond the best volunteer abroad programs is that we prioritize meaningful experiences, through the following:

Leadership Training You will become part of a select cohort along with fellows selected from the best and brightest of your generation, and together you will learn about leadership, networking, and the real ways in which you can create an impact on a scale that is realistic, but no less important.

Immersion and Apprenticeship With Global Citizen Year, you will be fully immersed in the destination of your choice. You will be placed with a host family and be able to become a part of the local community, forming relationships that will last a lifetime.

A Lifelong Network In addition to lifelong relationships you will have with your host family and community, you will continue to meet with fellows and share your stories. You will have an entire network of alumni behind you as you start college; this community will be a huge support for you to lean on.

The best volunteer abroad programs are the ones that provide students like you with life changing experiences that have an impact. Global Citizen Year encourages students to think big and do something different after high school and before college. That year is all about incredible experiences and growing as an individual.

An Opportunity for Students Finishing High School to Volunteer Abroad

An Opportunity for Students Finishing High School to Volunteer Abroad

The best places to volunteer after high school can present you with life-changing experiences, as well as opportunities to boost your personal and professional skill set, and beef your resume up in the process. Global Citizen Year offers students transitioning from high school to college the chance to:

Spend extended time in a new country.

Many volunteer abroad programs are only a couple weeks or maybe a couple months. With Global Citizen Year, you'll spend eight full months abroad in one of our destination options. Research shows extended travel time can have a beneficial impact on one's personal growth and overall conscientiousness. The amount of time you spend on your gap year will allow you to more fully experience your host country — it gives you more opportunities to do activities, experience the culture, and learn the language.

Do more than volunteer.

To volunteer abroad in high school is self-satisfying, but if you do not find one of the best places to volunteer, it often fails to teach new skills. Global Citizen Year allows you to partner with a local organization and gain real work experience while developing the intangible traits that are valuable in college and the workplace — drive, curiosity and resiliency.

Get ahead in college.

While some have mistakenly worried that a gap year will set them behind in their college career, the truth is that our alumni tend to graduate a year faster than the national average. Some studies show that ‘gappers’ even have higher GPAs!

Live with local residents.

With Global Citizen Year, you'll live with a local host family that has been closely screened and trained by our staff. There's no better way to become part of the community than by living in the community! Living with local families allows you to more fully understand each others’ cultures, and offers the opportunity to immerse yourself in the language and perhaps pick it up quicker.

Acquire the necessary preparation.

All of our Fellows go through extended training prior to their departure. This time allows fellows to familiarize themselves with the country, culture and current events. You can feel secure as you get ready to jump into your new adventure. You are not required to know anything going into your program, but thanks to our training prior to your journey, by the time you leave for your destination you will be well prepared.

Create a project.

Global Citizen Year Fellows maintain a blog and are encouraged to document their time through posting photos and videos. The year culminates in an opportunity to share your story with the host organization and home community capturing your experience. Not only will your friends and family appreciate learning about your experience, but you will always have a resource to look back on and fondly reflect on your year abroad.

Make lifelong friends.

What better way to make lifelong friends than by embarking on a life-changing journey together? Global Citizen Year gives you that chance, and makes sure you're ready for the road ahead. Before you leave, and during your nine months abroad, you'll find support and friendship from Fellows your age who are facing similar joys, challenges, and experiences.

To learn more about the Global Citizen Year experience, read some of the blogs posted by our Fellows. If you're ready to pursue a Fellowship with Global Citizen Year, take the first step and request more information.


Sources: Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ulterior-motives/201309/extended-travel-affects-personality

Gap Year Resources