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How to Volunteer Abroad


Medical workers -- like these Operation Smile medical volunteers on a mission at Cairo Hospital in Cairo, Egypt -- aren’t the only people who can volunteer abroad.
Medical workers -- like these Operation Smile medical volunteers on a mission at Cairo Hospital in Cairo, Egypt -- aren’t the only people who can volunteer abroad.
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images Europe

President John F. Kennedy once said, "Never before has man had such capacity to control his own environment, to end thirst and hunger, to conquer poverty and disease, to banish illiteracy and massive human misery. We have the power to make this the best generation of mankind in the history of the world -- or make it the last." These powerful words were presented to the United Nations in a speech in 1963, showing our collective responsibility to the world [source: JFK Presidential Library & Museum]. The world still needs volunteers, and you can still make a difference abroad.

The Peace Corps is one of the strongest and most recognized international volunteer organizations. Since it began in 1961, The Peace Corps has sent more than 195,000 volunteers to 139 countries [source: Peace Corps]. Signing up with a large organization has its perks. They've been to the countries, they know the rules and they can offer you extra support. But you don't have to go with a large organization. Volunteering doesn't mean you have to commit a year of your life to an organization. In fact, you can easily volunteer for a few hours or a day while you're vacationing in a foreign country.

There are many ways to help when you volunteer abroad, such as:

  • Teaching English as a second language
  • Building schools, homes and medical facilities
  • Providing food and water to communities
  • Assisting with farming and agricultural care
  • Giving shots and vaccines
  • Educating communities about politics, religion or health

In this article, we'll discuss the documentation you will need, grants you can receive to fund your journey and programs that specialize in volunteering abroad. Let's get started by exploring the documents.