Why Volunteering Abroad is a Great Way to Travel
Are you a traveler or a vacationer? Going on vacation is typically an escape from the everyday grind in order to reset the moral button in the brain. This is what the masses often refer to as traveling. Personally I do not find a whole lot of enrichment in having a few cool pictures to post on Facebook, a bronzy new tan and a shot glass with a lizard on it to show for my travels.
A true traveler immerses themselves in the culture of a distant land, absorbing the richness of the experience and coming home as a better person for it. International volunteers not only get a new perspective on life around the world but makes you a global citizen.
The world is not a zoo to look at behind glass walls. Being part of it is what it is all about. By volunteering abroad or having a Gap Year abroad is without a doubt the most powerful way to set your life on a new direction. While anyone of any age can volunteer abroad, students can benefit in ways they cannot imagine.
Years ago students you said they were going to take a year off after high school to backpack around Europe were considered the rebels not ready for college life and commitment. Today a Gap Year is not only becoming more common it is becoming mainstream. We no longer live in a world with Iron Curtains and limited communication. Earth is a much smaller place in the 21st century and we are all citizens of the planetary community.
Internships such as journalism in Moldova, working with the Human Rights Commission in Togo or medical facilities in Addis Ababa not only provide an opportunity to help the world but make a resume shine and show universities a commitment to serve. As a student imagine starting out on your path in life with a great accomplishment already under your belt. It sets the tone for a rewarding and enriching future.
For those of us that are long past the college days, are all too familiar with the monotony of daily survival in a corporate world, volunteering abroad will present new horizons and re-open that box of dreams we had when we were young.
There are many Gap Year and Volunteer Abroad organizations out there, but I strongly recommend Projects Abroad. They are the leading overseas volunteer organization that handles every aspect volunteering you could possibly encounter.
New volunteers often think they might not have much to offer and end up putting it off. You will be surprised what you have to offer. I have built schools in Central America, taught English in places I never heard of and worked aboard marine mammal rescue vessels in the Med. Everyone can find something that will be one of the most rewarding experiences of their life.
If you have ever considered volunteering abroad or are just looking for a way to make your life feel accomplished, contact Projects Abroad or ask questions in the comment box below.
This page is dedicated to helping the survivors of the Friday 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan by channeling international donations to local efforts.
The earthquake and tsunami have caused extensive and severe damage in Northeastern Japan, over 9,500 people have been confirmed dead and another 16,000 are missing, and millions more affected by lack of electricity, water and transportation.
The images of the destruction and suffering have shocked the world. However, with the World Bank reporting over 300 billion USD in damages and families torn apart there is a need for everyone to help both financially and emotionally.
A few weeks ago I posted about my Experience During the Japan Earthquake and made a plea to my readers to spread the word about helping Japan recover. My wife is from Tokyo and we are both professional aid and recovery workers with the United Nations. We have seen the recovery phase of the 2004 Tsunami up close and we know there is a tremendous need to not only raise donations but to make sure those funds are used responsibly and are in the hands of organizations with not only technical expertise but also local knowledge.
How You Can Help
A lot of people around the world want to help and have been donating to various international organizations (mainly the American Red Cross). I think this is great and with the money being transferred to the Japanese Red Cross this money will be used well. However, we also believe there is a need to donate funds directly to local Japanese organizations and NGOs that don’t have access to this type of fund raising. There are also many scams out there trying to benefit from this horrible disaster. We know that language barriers and lack of knowledge can also prevent people from donating to the right place. As such we have put together a list of Japanese Organizations that we know, trust and recommend to channel your donations to.
If you are unable to donate we ask that you Share this Page with your friends, family and coworkers through e-mail, facebook, twitter or any other outlet you can think of. The more people who see this page the greater the donations will be.
If you are blogger, or have your own website. Please see the Blog4Japan page to learn how you can utilize this appeal on your own site and help us reach even more people.
Japanese Organizations We Trust
Please consider donating to one or more of these organizations. All are local Japanese organizations and we have found the English Pages for you. Even a small amount like $10 is useful, but we hope you donate more!
Peace Winds Japan is one of the largest Japanese organizations providing humanitarian relief such as food, clothing, fuel and medical supplies to the affected areas. You can Donate Here.
JEN is a well known NGO dedicated to restoring a self-supporting livelihood both economically and mentally to those who have been stricken with hardship due to conflicts and disasters. They are currently supporting emergency relief items such as food, woman’s hygienic items, clothes and other essentials to the survivors of the Japan Tsunami. You can Donate Here.
Save the Children has been working in Japan for over 25 years. Their American partner is now collecting donations for them in English (which eliminates any credit card exchange charges. They have set up multiple child-friendly spaces in evacuation centers in Sendai City where displaced families are staying. They are also starting their long-term recovery plans to restore education and child care in communities ravaged by the disasters. You can get information on activities and Donate Here.
Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is donating food and essential items to the survivors of the tsunami. They also keep a well maintained English blog of their activities in Japan for the tsunami which you can Follow Here. You can Donate Here.
The Japan Organization for International Cooperation in Family Planning is taking donations for their response to the tsunami that will focus on the reproductive health needs of women and mothers in affected areas. You can Donate Here.
The Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA Japan) team is delivering essential medical services through mobile clinics and delivering relief goods to the nursing homes and schools (evacuation shelters) in Aoba and Miyagino Wards. You can Donate Here.
OXFAM Japan is working with two partners in Japan on providing support to those on the margins of society who might otherwise have difficulty accessing emergency relief. One group is assisting mothers and babies and the other is providing information to non-Japanese speakers living in Japan. You can Donate Here.
Habitat For Humanity Japan is still assessing the situation but will be involved in the reconstruction of housing once the emergency period ends. This is one of the most vital aspects of recovery and the homeless will need a lot of help to put their lives back together. You can Donate Here.
The Institute for Cultural Affairs Japan (ICA) is still assessing the situation but is accepting donations. You can Donate Here.
All of these are worthy organizations to support and you can match your own personal interests to the organization that you think will work the best on what you want to support. Even if you are unable to donate please pass this on through social media, word of mouth or even in print. I have waived all rights to this post so please feel free to copy and reproduce any part of it for the good of the Japanese people.
If you do want to reproduce this please see the Blog4Japan page where you can find out more details.
Thank you from my family and friends who have been affected by this terrible disaster.
Traveler is a rather innocuous title. My goals are benign; observe and learn about people, immerse myself into the culture, learn the language, eat the food and befriend the locals. This lifestyle is enlightening and rewarding. I reward myself with the title of Global Citizen. There are times when I’m ashamed to be cast into the mold of a common title. There are those that would take the freedom of travel too far. I am not talking about camping out on land that is posted “No Trespassing”, I am talking about genocide. That’s a pretty bold word to use. Genocide is a mammoth word, a colossal word, a word that invokes images of Hitler in 1944, Cambodia in 1975, Rwanda in 1994.
Sadly people are being used as a tourist attraction in what is termed “Human Safaris”. Local tour operators of the Andaman Islands promote tourism to see the Jarawa tribe. There are about 320 Jarawa left who live in bands of 40 to 50. These people have had little outside contact with the world, which makes them susceptible to common disease that often proves fatal. These nomadic people’s hunting and gathering way of life is threatened to the point of extinction.
In January of 2010 the last member of the Bo tribe died. The tribe is thought to have one of the oldest spoken languages. The people of the Andaman Islands have inhabited the region for 60,000 years. If something is not done immediately to stop this travesty another tribe will be lost.
Many other tour companies offer the tours in a “under the table” fashion. You can find more information at Survival International on how to help protect different tribes around the world that are facing extinction. There are several enlightening videos on the site that show how indigenous people are threatened.Read More