Whether you, your parents, or the government pays for your college education, one thing is certain: college is really, really expensive. Because of this, it’s easy to want to spend all the free-time you have making money to pay for tuition and living expenses. Easy and sensible.
Still, in Top 5 Ways to Spend the Summer Break, we recommended volunteering as a great way to spend the summer. Considering the financial obligations that come with being in school, not everyone can fit this into their summer schedule, but volunteering even once per week can make all the difference in your life.
Provides Travel Opportunities
The absolute best way to spend the summer is travelling, and there’s no reason volunteering should get in the way of this. In fact, volunteering is a great way to make international travel a real and affordable possibility.
Those who love risk and adventure often volunteer their services around the world in exchange for food and a place to sleep. This might mean working on a farm, helping out on a fishing boat, or providing extra help at a bed and breakfast.
There are, however, more organized options for the volunteer who loves to travel. These provide the opportunity for you to use and grow your skills as teachers, builders, conservationists, and even assistant archaeologists.
Do your research and check with your school to see if they have partnered with any volunteer projects that could use your hands on deck.
There are many more stories in the media highlighting what we need to change than those helping us to change them. Too often do we complain about the ills of the world, while simultaneously leaving it up to someone else to fix.
We believe that our tiny contribution is far too small to be noticeable, or to create real change. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
If there are causes you wish to support, or changes in the world you want to see: be that change. Join a group of volunteers to help make those changes a reality, or start one on your own. As one old saying in Jamaica goes:
One, one cocoa. Full basket.
Puts your Life into Perspective
The media provides a long laundry list of things we need in life in order to be happy. While not all of us subscribe to this list, it nonetheless makes it easy for us to identify and focus on all the things going wrong in our life, versus everything going right.
Volunteering does a lot to help put your own life into perspective, and make you grateful for the opportunities you do have in life, no matter how few they are.
After all, who can guiltlessly complain about student loans to children who can’t even afford an elementary education? And what’s one day out with a dead iPhone compared to living in neighborhoods with no electricity or running water – ever? You will never see the little inconveniences in your life the same way again.
In the past, individualism and the accompanying tendency towards selfishness mostly plagued big, industrialized cities. Thanks to the media and the brilliant new ways it finds to permeate cultures, this glorified culture of materialism and the prioritising of the self has reached virtually every corner of the globe.
Volunteering helps to reinforce the ideology that life isn’t always about getting and taking or being paid as reward. It is also about giving and sharing and accepting other people’s happiness as one acceptable means of finding our own.
People who understand this way of living do much better in work, school, and their personal life because they understand that not every good deed requires direct and immediate payment – or even acknowledgement.
Looks Good on a Résumé
Selflessness is a great characteristic to develop, but what’s the point of doing anything long-term if there’s no personal gratification involved? Volunteering meets even this need as well, by giving you a one-up over other applicants for work, and even for school.
Organizations love to hire people who bring a more international perspective to the table, who show that they don’t need to be paid for every second of work they do, and who go above and beyond to meet community goals instead of just satisfying their own. These are not only the people they love to hire, but also the people they love to promote.
Sometimes volunteer work provides an even more direct boost to your résumé, as well. For instance, volunteering at an animal shelter would give you an edge to work at a veterinary hospital, and volunteering to teach children in impoverished countries would go a long way towards boosting your chances of getting a job as a teacher.
Volunteering doesn’t pay in cash, but what it pays in kind can prove far more beneficial for a lifelong learner. Not only does volunteering teach great life lessons, but it also prepares you for the real working world, which greatly values the personal drive and focus on community goals that organizations need in order to grow and excel in their industry.