An international volunteer program allows participants to live abroad with the goal of contributing to a service project that matches the needs of the local community with the interests of the volunteer. World Endeavors volunteer programs are culturally immersive, meaning that volunteers live in the communities they serve, meeting the local people, learning the language, experiencing local customs and traditions, and eating the local food. International volunteer programs are rewarding for both the organizations they serve by providing enthusiastic participants in areas of need, and for the volunteers, who get the satisfaction of having a constructive purpose while absorbing a new culture, country and way of life. Embarking on an international volunteer program is a life-changing experience that emboldens participants and inspires them to notice, care, and participate more fully in their world.
International volunteer programs enrich both local communities as well as the individual volunteers who offer their time and attention. These volunteer programs not only serve a specific need, but also make global citizens of the volunteers, giving them a better understanding of other cultures, social traditions, and ways of life. Volunteer programs serve both an immediate need for social or environmental assistance, while also planting the seeds for cross-cultural understanding and elevated social consciousness on the part of participating volunteers.
World Endeavors volunteer programs have a flexible duration, and can be tailored to last between 1 week and 3 months. If you have the time, we recommend a stay of at least 4 weeks to allow you to connect more deeply with the local culture and with your host organization. But if you only have a couple of weeks, volunteering abroad is still a rewarding and meaningful experience!
As a World Endeavors volunteer, you will live within a neighborhood of local community members. In this setting, volunteers quickly become a part of a community and, at most of our sites, a host family. Living in such close proximity allows for an intimate window into the needs and interests of the community, as well as specific aspects of the culture, including food, music, and family dynamics.
Who Volunteers Abroad
A successful international volunteer is not an individual who imposes personal perceptions and beliefs, but instead is a person who is ready to stay open to the needs of a community and respond in an appropriate and respectful way. World Endeavors volunteers should be willing to experience a certain amount of culture shock as a part of the process of widening their comfort zone. When you volunteer abroad, immersion in a new culture may introduce you to your own prejudices, perceptions, or stereotypes that you did not even know existed. In this sense, volunteers should expect to be challenged as well as transformed. In other words, volunteer programs are not necessarily a vacation, although they are usually fun and exhilarating. Instead, the volunteer programs are meant to be powerful, formative experiences that appeal to someone looking to contribute time, effort, skills, and compassion to serving a local community on their terms.
Applicants to most of our programs must be 18 years of age or older, though exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis for some of our sites. There is no age limit for participating in a World Endeavors program. World Endeavors volunteers are students, graduates, professionals, families, couples, and retirees. We welcome volunteers of all ages and backgrounds who are hard-working and dedicated to contributing to a community abroad.