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Career Advice: 4 Skills You Can Develop By Volunteering Abroad

Here’s a little secret about volunteering abroad: nearly everybody thinks it’s impressive. Friends, family and strangers are all amazed when they hear those magic words. It’s almost like “volunteering abroad” is some kind of secret code that says you’re a good person, but it’s actually true. It really does take a special person to spend the time and energy to travel abroad and help people, so you deserve their respect!

And guess what? Many employers react the same way, so volunteering abroad looks great on your resume or CV. Sure, a resume is just a first impression, but it will help a hiring manager to see you’re smart, mature, and giving (and whatever else they picture when they see your past experience volunteering abroad). So congratulations, you’re already scoring points for your future job searches by simply doing something you’re excited to do anyway!


Volunteering abroad will fill up your resume with all kinds of real world career skills that just develop organically while you’re working within a volunteer group and meeting all different types of people. And you get to have fun and make a difference in people’s lives while doing it.

Want some actual examples? Here are four of the career skills our Up with People cast members say they develop while touring the world to volunteer.


It takes a lot of self-confidence just to go overseas for an extended period of time, leaving your friends and family behind. Throw in the natural maturity, adaptability, and compassion you’ll develop while working with people from different countries and cultures, and you will come home a changed person.

Up with People alum Margaret Holtz says her family noticed it immediately.  “When I got back from traveling with Up with People, my dad said ‘You’ve changed. I can see growth, confidence, and maturity that was not there before.’ I went back to college with a new found motivation and passion,” she says. “I graduated with honors and received better grades than I ever had.”


Today’s 21st century jobs are all about communication. Whether that’s face-to-face or device-to-device, you need to be able to connect with people quickly, understand their needs, and gain their trust. That’s the kind of stuff that’s hard to learn in a classroom and easy to develop while volunteering outside of your home country.

Think about it, you’ll meet and interact with individuals very different from yourself — in your volunteer group and in the communities you’re helping. Learning to communicate with people regardless of background, language, or cultural differences is an ability that will translate very well to any professional path you decide to take.


What are employers looking for in our global economy? Cultural awareness is near the top of the list. Being able to understand and work with people from various countries and cultures is crucial, and what better way to develop those skills than volunteering abroad?  

Immersing yourself in a new culture will make you more knowledgeable about social issues around the world and help you develop global awareness.

“I wanted to see how other people and other cultures lived,” says Up with People alumnus Nancy White Bagwell. “I accomplished my goal of traveling, performing on stage, helping build bridges of understanding, learning first-hand how children were raised and families related to each other in other cultures, AND landed my first job all in the course of that year.”


Volunteering abroad helps you develop and put into practice leadership skills in a way you would’nt have the opportunity to do within a traditional classroom. It takes real world experiences to cultivate those skills, like working with a team of volunteers at a local school or senior center, or maybe even leading a team of volunteers. Throw in some language challenges, and you’ll learn some leadership skills that will serve you well in the workplace.

If you decide to volunteer abroad with Up with People, you’ll also get a chance to meet with political, corporate and social leaders while out on tour. The UWP global program offers truly unique access to opportunities that develop and refine leadership skills that will benefit you on any career path.

53 Ways to Impact Your Community Every Day

For 53 years Up with People has been reaching communities and people across the globe through our music, our message and our service. Cast A 2018 just hit the road this week, and as they begin their journey we wanted to offer up ways each of us can have a positive impact in our own communities. Not only do we serve our mission through the activities of our international touring casts, but many of Up with People’s 22,000+ alumni continue to make a positive difference in the world long after their tour has ended. We know one thing for sure, the more each of us acts as global citizens and become positive agents of change, the better off we all are. 

53 Ways To Impact Your Community

1.) Make It A Habit To Respect All People – This includes while driving, walking, interacting with people in line. Small ripples of respect can make a big difference in your community.
2.) Dedicate a Complete Day to Help Out a Friend in His/Her Aspirations and Goals – We all have talents and dreams. Why not help those you care about reach their full potential?
3.) Make It A Habit To Perform Random Acts of Kindness – Ideas include: wheel out a neighbor’s trash bin, shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk after a snowstorm, pick up trash in your neighborhood, pay for a stranger’s coffee. For hundreds of ideas check out
4.) Start a Community Garden – Food brings people together and there are few better ways to foster that community than by growing it together.
5.) Be Kind – This is needed today more than ever. Kindness surprises people and is infectious.
6.) Foster engaged communities – At Up with People we collaborate with each community we visit, work together to address local issues and form community connections that enhance compassion and trust. You can do the same.
7.) Run/Walk a 5K for a cause – Not only does this support a cause you care about but it also allows you to meet like minded people in your city.
8.) Be The Person Who Welcomes New Neighbors To The Community – Peering out your window wondering who this new person is that is moving in next door? Go say hi!
9.) Volunteer At Least Once A Month – If you pick only one thing from this list, then choose this. Get involved in your community in causes you care about. Don’t know where to begin? Try, or
10.) Empower Youth as Positive Change Agents – We strive to help youth throughout the world become more aware of global and local issues, realize their individual capacity and inspire them to take personal action to make positive change. Foster this in your own community.
11.) Write a Positive Review of a Local Small Business – Few are more connected to and more dependent on the local community that small shops. Make the business owners day by posting something positive.
12.) Ask a Senior About Their Past – They have a lifetime of wisdom to share and time spend with a senior will benefit you just as much as it will benefit them.
13.) Got Some Musical Talent? Teach a Few Kids for Free – Spark creativity and teach skills to kids. They are our future!
14.) Leave Quarters at the Laundromat With a Happy Note – Making someone’s day is never “small change”.
15.) Bake Someone A Cake – When was the last time someone baked for you? Remember how you felt when they did? Spread joy with yummy food.
16.) Plant A Tree – We all breathe the same air so why not help to keep it clean. Plant a tree today.
17.) Babysit to Help Out a Single-parent. – Chances are that parent hasn’t had any free time in a long while. A breather will help them be a better parent which is good for all.
18.) Mentor Someone – Sometimes the only thing a talented, hungry, motivated young person needs is a mentor. Be that person for them.
19.) Share Favorite Recipes With Complete Strangers – This is a great way to get to know those in your area. Don’t forget to follow up to see if they cooked and liked them! 
20.) Leave a Surprise in a Library Book – Imagine the joy someone would feel opening up a library book to find a gift card or a note from a complete stranger.
21.) Attend Community Meetings – Many times we want to change the world on a global scale but forget to start local. Many important issues and solutions are being discussed every day at community meetings all over the world. Be the solution.
22.) Start a Club or Team – Have you ever thought, I wish there was a _________ in this town. Go out and make it happen.
23.) Make Your Voice Heard – You care about your world. Speak up when you see things you would like to change. Keep in mind it’s better to be for something or a solution than against. Take action.
24.) Start With Your Own Family –  Is there a nephew in your life without anyone to take him to (or pay for) his school? Is there an elderly aunt whose car needs an oil change? Compassion isn’t just for strangers.
25.)  Start A Chain Reaction – With many of these ideas you can inspire others to pay it forward. Include this prompt or inspire others to keep the trend going.
26.) Donate Supplies To A Classroom – Kids should have the supplies they need to learn and grow. Sometimes teachers are left to foot the bill. Your donations can go a long way.
27.) Get Off Your Phone And Into Your Community – Take a moment if you spend your time fighting with people on social media. Get off your phone and be the change you want to see.
28.) Get First Aid Certified – Could you help someone in an emergency? Communities need people like you!
29.) Leave A Generous Tip – We realize tipping isn’t common in some countries but in those locations that do tip servers, be generous, especially for excellent service.
30.) Compliment a Parent on How Well-Behaved Their Child Is – This could be the compliment to make a parent’s day.
31.) Adopt an Animal – Skip buying animals from pet shops and visit your local shelter to adopt a furry friend in need of a good home.
32.) Incorporate Kindness Into Your Curriculum –The core of Up with People’s global education program is based on a robust curriculum that not only enriches the tour experience, but brings key lessons to life through exploration, formal study, and action. Kindness is an important lesson for us all. Are you an educator? Don’t forget this basic skill.
33.) Be the Change – Mahatma Gandhi said it best, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
34.) Host Or Join Community Giving – Take a cue from 100 Women Who Care, an international group with more than 500 chapters whose members learn about pressing needs in their area, pool their money, and then vote on a cause to support. 
35.) Sponsor a Local Event or Sports Team – Not only will you get the satisfaction of knowing you helped make something great happen but you will get to meet your neighbors too.
36.) Show Up – Get out of the house and show up. You’d be surprised how much this means to people.
37.) Hand Out Toiletry Items – Fill a new or gently used knapsack with toiletry items and give it to a homeless person, or donate directly to a local shelter.
38.) Help Someone Get Active – We all need to move so offer to walk with a friend or sign up for physical activity together.
39.) Put A Positive Surprise in Someone’s Mailbox – Without trespassing of course, leave a surprise gift or note for a neighbor.
40.) Buy Lemonade From A Stand – Every summer we pass them by but this year stop and enjoy!
41.) Help End Childhood Hunger – In your own backyard kids don’t have enough to eat. Support great initiatives like No Kid Hungry.
42.) Let Someone Cut In Front Of You In Line – This will boggle the person’s mind and fill your heart.
43.) Turn Your Shopping Into Purpose –  It’s hard to believe, but you can actually give back by simply searching the internet. Several search engines donate to causes every time you enter a query or make a purchase. With Amazon Smile for example Amazon will donate a percentage of your shopping purchases to your favorite non-profit, like Up with People!
44.) Shop Local – Skip the large chains and support mom and pop shops near you. This makes your community unique and your purchase goes a long way to keeping your area vibrant.
45.) Celebrate People – Take the time to celebrate the accomplishments of your friends and colleagues.
46.) Recycle – A cleaner environment is good for us all.
47.) Bike To Work – No one wants to breathe exhaust fumes. Biking to work makes your local air that much cleaner.
48.) Start or Join a Meetup Group – Building community is sometimes the seed that grows into something much bigger.
49.) Turn Off Your Engine – According to the Environmental Protection Agency, elevated levels of air pollutants like benzene, formaldehyde, and acetaldehyde have been detected during the afternoon school-pickup rush. Talk to your principal or PTA about reducing idling in your area or simply keep your personal idling to a minimum.
50.) Brighten Up A Dreary Spot – With an investment of less than $20, a few hours of your time—and the green light from local officials—you can transform neglected under-passes and walls with sidewalk chalk.
51.) Talk To A Librarian – Next time you’re checking out books, ask your librarian how you can help. Sometimes a simple conversation reveals a talent or skill that might be a good match for the local community.
52.) Create a Kindness Project – Devise an activity where your family or even a classroom records ONE act of kindness or ONE pleasant activity per day. Use this list as a starting point for ideas!
53.) Vote – No matter where you live or what your political beliefs, show up and vote. Especially in small local elections.
For more on ways Up with People and our alumni are helping communities around the world CLICK HERE.

How To Run A Successful Online Fundraiser

Since 1965 over 22,000 young people have circled the globe with Up with People. As a non-profit and as a program that helps hundreds of our participants fundraise each year we understand a thing or two about fundraising. Whether you are raising funds for a good cause or to travel the world, crowdfunding online can be both necessary and challenging. Crowdfunding is defined as, “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.” Where does one begin? In this post we explore the many options available online to help you choose the best approach for your fundraising goals.

Top Crowdfunding Platform Comparison Guide – GoFundMe operates under the “keep what you raise” fundraising model and is the best for individuals looking to raise funds for whatever reason as their name implies. You don’t lose out on donations if you don’t reach your goal. They offer unlimited duration or custom deadlines for your campaigns and are a popular choice for young creatives and travelers. Cost – 2.9% of total raised plus $0.30 gift processing fee per donation. – With KickStarter you must either meet or exceed your goal or you keep nothing and all donations are returned to donors. This platform is best for starting a new organization or business. Campaign duration can last from 1 – 60 days. Kickstarter is the most competitive of all platforms therefore it can be harder to stand out. Cost – If goal is met, 5% of money raised goes to Kickstarter, plus 3-5% to Amazon Payments to cover gift processing. – Popular with the creative crowd, this platform is shared with as many as 10,000 causes at one time, leaving the site cluttered with campaigns for donors to sort through. Competition here is high. IndieGoGo operates under both the “keep what you raise” and “all or nothing” model. Campaign duration can last from 1 – 120 days. Cost – 8% platform and gift processing fee plus $0.30 transaction fee per gift. – When individuals, groups, or communities need to raise funds in the face of hardship, YouCaring can be a great option. Unlike most online crowdfunding sites, YouCaring doesn’t charge a platform fee off what you have raised. They also have a tuition pre-built page which people can use for college, gap year program or study abroad semester fundraising. – Classy is tailored to large nonprofit organizations and social enterprises. It is not a good fit for individuals and small fundraising campaigns. Cost – $499 per month making it one of the more expensive options out there.

Donate Direct To Individuals – With the rise of services and apps like VenMo and Zelle, supporting an individual directly has never been easier. Hefty service fees from major crowdfunding sites can really cut into all of the hard work and needed funds. A common misconception is that simply having a presence on major crowdfunding sites will give your cause exposure thus finding brand new donors. How many people do you know go to crowdfunding sites to donate to random projects? The truth is that the people who make donations will be in your circle of contacts. This is why often times it is better to create a simple web page using a free site builder like WordPress to explain your story and why you need funds. Many people simply start a Facebook page for this purpose. Then people can donate to your cause directly helping you avoid costly service fees. Many participants fundraising to travel with Up with People simply have supporters make payments directly to their program fee on Up with People’s website, thus avoiding 3rd party service fees as well.


Steps to Run a Successful Online Fundraiser

No matter how you decide to raise money online there are some best practices that you should follow. These best practices will give you the best chance to raise the much needed funds for your cause.

1.) Tell A Great Story – Why should someone donate? Empathy is a powerful tool and on your project page you must quickly explain why you need donations. What does that money actually do? Videos are a powerful tool and we recommend always using a video on any online fundraising page. The video doesn’t have to be perfect or professionally produced with lots of bells and whistles, it just has to tell your story. Keep it under 2 minutes if you can and get to the point quickly. 

2.) Show Progress – One great thing about the major crowdfunding platforms and perhaps why they are so popular is that they clearly show how much you have raised and the goal. You must set a goal and show it to the world. This helps supporters see your progress and makes them more likely to give a little bit more if they can see how much it will help in the big picture. People naturally want to help you reach that goal.

3.) Social Media Is Required – As we mentioned before, most of your donors will come from your inner circle and there is no better way to reach them quickly than with social media. Once you have decided on a platform, blast out your page to everyone you know and ask supporters to share it with their own networks. It is also best practice to ask people to share your page after they have donated.

4.) A Thank You Gift – Offering something as a thank you doesn’t have to cost you a thing but it can be a powerful tool in raising funds. If you are raising funds for study abroad, could you promise your donors a digital recipe book from dishes you loved while living with your host family abroad? Could you simply promise a postcard from abroad? Coming up with creative ways to thank your supporters can be a great way to boost funds.

5.) Donate Now Button – You would be surprised how often we see this forgotten on participant run online fundraising campaigns. It seems obvious but if there is no “Donate Now” button on whatever page you send your supporters, you are making it difficult and confusing for people and potentially losing money.

6.) Set A Deadline – Nothing kills donations more than when your supporters say to themselves, “Oh I’ll do that tomorrow.” Set a deadline for donations and remind people of this deadline in your social media posts and on your fundraising page.

In the end you want to make the process for your supporters as easy as possible. Online fundraising can be a powerful tool in your quest to raise funds and using at least some of these best practices will help ensure your campaign pays off. 

Meet The Generation That Volunteers The Most

Over the past decade the volunteer rate in many countries has declined. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics about 1 in 4 Americans volunteered through an organization and nearly two-thirds helped their neighbors last year, demonstrating that service to others continues to be a priority for millions despite the slight drop in numbers. But there are some bright spots and generational surprises buried in those stats. It turns out that one generation is volunteering more than they ever have.

So who volunteers the most? Generation X (those born between 1965 to 1980) leads volunteering among generations in the United States. Generation X had a volunteer rate of 28.9 percent, followed by Baby Boomers at 25.7 percent. One in five (21.9 percent) of Millennials (those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s) volunteered during the same time. But these numbers are shifting.

The award for most improved goes to…


Millennials are volunteering more with each passing year. When it comes to volunteer hours per person this generation is ticking up as most other generations are decreasing donated time. According to the book Thrive by Ariana Huffington, millennials will soon be in the lead for volunteer hours, dispelling the common belief that they are lazy and selfish. A recent report found that more than one-third of millenials volunteered 11 hours or more last year. Another study found that 46% of millennials volunteered for a cause affiliated with a social issue they care about in the past month.

Why are millennials volunteering more and more? It could be because of something as simple as optimism. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that, whereas a generation ago, when Baby Boomers were in their 20s, they held a gloomier view of the future than older generations. It turns out the reverse is true of millennials, with the youngest generation showing the most optimism. Today, 49 percent of millennials say the country’s best years are ahead, compared to 42 percent of Gen Xers, 44 percent of Baby Boomers and 39 percent of the Silent Generation.

According to The Millennial Impact Report we see that millennials are a charitable, thoughtful generation who believe that they can leave the world a better place than they’ve found it. In fact, 90% of millennials think people like them can have an impact in the world to make it a better place to live.

When it comes to volunteering everyone benefits. Human beings are so wired to give that our genes actually reward us for giving and punish us when we don’t. A study by scientists from the University of North Carolina and UCLA found that participants whose happiness was mostly devoted to receiving had high levels of biological markers that promote inflammation. Inflammation is linked to diabetes, cancer and other poor health conditions. Those whose happiness included service to others had health profiles showing reduced levels of these markers. The benefits of giving are boundless. 

A recent Harvard study demonstrated that volunteering at least once a week yields improvements to your well-being. We could go on and on.

Organizations like Up with People, who value service to others as a key component of their mission, make volunteering a priority in their programs. For example, in every community Up with People visits while circling the globe cast members (who happen to be millennials) complete 800-1000 hours per week of volunteer work during two to four Community Action Days, working with hundreds of agencies and a wide variety of causes each year.

No matter what generation you call your own, let’s all make volunteering a priority in the new year!

Unique Gift Ideas For Aspiring Young Travelers

The United Nations estimates that 20 percent of all international travelers, over 200 million people, are under the age of 30. Travel is the new most wanted gift under the tree. With millions of high school and college grads considering a gap year and over 300,000 American students planning to study abroad next year, it’s easy to see why anything related to travel will turn you into a gift-giving champion. As this new wave of young people prepares for a much-anticipated adventure abroad and gift-giving season in full swing, consider the following list for that travel aspiring person on your list. Whether that gift is a thing, or an experience, the following list has something for every adventurous young traveler.

The ideal power adaptor is universal. Many travelers will visit multiple countries and will need multiple adaptors to keep their phones, cameras and laptops charged as they explore. The new wave of universal power adaptors can adjust to most plugs around the world. Simply search ‘universal power adaptor’ on your favorite online retail site.

Many young travelers save money by staying in hostel rooms (or even staying with host families) that hold multiple sleepy people. Almost always at least one of those people will snore. The difference between a good night’s sleep and extreme irritation can be an inexpensive stocking stuffer like earplugs!

These small and lightweight chargers can be a life saver on long-haul bus rides or camping trips abroad. They work by allowing you to charge devices via usb ports anywhere. When stranded in a strange place and your phone flashes 1% battery remaining this can be the ultimate lifesaver.

Writing can be an important and sentimental gift that will allow the intrepid traveler to process the incredible experiences they will discover on the road. Among items that poll the highest with experienced travelers as most valuable years after a trip are journals. When culture shock hits sometimes a journal can be that emotional processing tool that keeps a person on the positive track of personal growth.

Think about it. Is there any other gift that has the power to change your loved ones life more profoundly than a long-term trip abroad? One of the longest running and most respected gap year and semester abroad programs in the world is Up with People. This is a gift that offers improved academic performance, accelerated maturity and a new perspective. Learn more about program options (including academic credit) here.

Lightweight, quick drying and easy to pack, microfiber towels are essential especially when the traveler plans to stay in hostels or camp. These towels are easy to find in camping stores and are very inexpensive. When every ounce counts while packing, ditch bulky towels for a microfiber option.

This may seem obvious but think of the power of this gift to change a life. Pauline Frommer summed it up best when she said, “You can’t have a narrow mind and a thick passport.” For passport holders we like the unique options found on sites like Etsy.

For those of us unable to afford first class airline tickets complete with showers and slippers, facial cleansing towelettes offer a way to clean that travel grime from your face after hours of international transport. This stocking stuffer allows your young traveler to freshen up before getting off the airplane and meeting up with say, a new host family abroad!