Up with People takes the concept of service and volunteerism deeper than most travel programs. Each week, participants volunteer with schools and non-profit organizations to meet a community need and spark action in local community members that will continue to make an impact well beyond UWP’s visit. In fact, on average each participant completes 200 hours of service in a semester! By working directly with local citizens, together we create communities of action who understand their ability and responsibility to tend to the issues facing their cities and towns for the long term.
Examples of Community Action projects include:
- School projects at elementary schools, secondary schools, and universities
- Community clean-ups
- Visiting patients in hospitals or other care facilities
- Working with special needs groups, such as those who are terminally ill, disabled, underprivileged or homeless.
- Painting, building, improving, etc. buildings or other structures
- Outdoor projects impacting parks and trails
How does volunteering benefit you and your host country while traveling? Let’s take a closer look.
Connects Community to the World
When you travel across the ocean and cross borders, people you meet might not know much about anything outside the place where they’ve always lived. Therefore, you become the connecting link between them and the world. In person connection with people from another country is the most powerful way to build bridges of understanding between cultures.
Develop Sensitivity to Other Cultures
In turn, you may have never been anywhere outside of your own community. Volunteers learn about body language, gestures and conversational customs that may differ between their home country and the country in which they are volunteering, to avoid the risk of accidentally causing offense. The lessons are fascinating and often humbling, leading volunteers to reflect on how their behaviour comes across to others in daily life and especially while traveling around the world.
Gives Community Members Hope
Volunteer work can many times involve working with people who are otherwise neglected by society in some way. What you have to offer them might appear very negligible to you, but for them, your time and commitment is immensely valuable as it’s a source of hope and happiness
Develop Emotional Intelligence
An immersive volunteering experience can help you in developing personal and professional skills, including cross-cultural communication, interpersonal communication and empathy. These skills are best learned in the real world by putting down our phones and getting involved.
During job interviews after your volunteer experience abroad you will have an incredible set of real world skills that you have learned while abroad. In competitive job markets your experiences may be just the thing to separate you from others vying for the same opportunities.
Develop Leadership Skills
As a volunteer abroad, you will almost always be put in a position of leadership. Whether this is for a small group of people or a whole team, being able to manage effectively will push your career prospects one step further.
Form Lifelong Bonds
We see it happen each year. Up with People participants form lifelong friendships because they are changing the world together. The feeling of accomplishment that comes from helping communities you visit while traveling is incredibly powerful among groups and leads to lifelong bonds.
Develop New Language Skills
Volunteering and working in another country is hands down the best way to learn the language: hearing it spoken around you and using it yourself in real life situations. If your volunteer work abroad involves teaching English, you’ll develop your English written and verbal skills at the same time.