Reg Charity 1143560
Thought Piece

What Does It Take To Be A Volunteer?

By Mikey
Successfully sending volunteers abroad for 10 years

Can anyone be a volunteer? If you have never done any kind of volunteer work in the past, then this is a question that you might be asking yourself. It’s natural to wonder in this way, because, let’s face it if you’ve not done something like this before, it will leave you with a few questions.  

Volunteers come from all over the globe, from every walk of life, young and old, and offer a host of skills and professional experience. What comes with this, are a few things that volunteers all have in common.  

We’re talking about some shared personality characteristics that we see from volunteers. These traits tie back to the question many people ask themselves in regard to what it takes to be a volunteer. Below, you can see some of the biggest personality features that any volunteer can have that will give them the competency to be a successful volunteer.  

Be flexible, Be Adaptable

Being able to show that you are flexible and adaptable to situations is a key ingredient. For example, whether you decide to work in animal conservation or childcare volunteering in Kenya, foreseeing, reacting to and dealing with change on a regular basis is vital. You’re going to be in a place that you aren’t necessarily used to back home, and as circumstances change, you have to adapt.  

These changes in lifestyle can be fun and exciting while you’re on your volunteer programme, as long as you are able to cope with the change. Ask any volunteer, and they will tell you that each day is different and that makes it interesting; you simply need to adjust your thoughts and skillsets appropriately. 

Be a Team Player

For every volunteer project, you tend to join up because you can bring skills and ability to the table, as well as applying a slice of positive change while you are there. As a volunteer, hitting the ground running, working effectively with others and offering short/long-term solutions for those you have come to help is essential.  

The main aspects of being a team player are having the aptitude and keen approach to want to help others. Thinking about creating a better life for those you have signed up to help is what it’s all about. How can you make an impact? What can you do to make it better in some way for them? Much like reading a job description, the need to work as part of a team and independently is a must, and volunteering shares this need. 

Be Broad-Minded

This quality might just be the one that needs the least attention. Volunteers are notoriously open-minded, and that’s what helps to drive them to assist those in less fortunate circumstances to their own.

Having shared respect for differing values and other cultures while you’re on your placement goes without saying. It’s exciting and insightful to learn about new cultures and values in another community, so it should be embraced. At the same time, having the aptitude to act with sensitivity throughout your time volunteering and remaining broad-minded is a must-have approach.  

You’ll encounter times when you might see something new to you; food, behaviour, traditions, extreme poverty, for example, and this is all part of the experience. When it comes to the projects you’re working on, try your best to take on board what you can from others around you to enrich your time as a volunteer and your life in general, while also doing the same for the people you’re helping. 

Be Resilient

The opportunity to volunteer overseas is something truly unique and will live with you forever. You can bet on the fact that there will be a whole host of rewards that you will get out of your experience on a personal level as well as on a personal note.  

It’s important to bear in mind that when you do head off to volunteer though, that there may be some times when things are a little challenging for you. Being among those who aren’t well off and are in impoverished communities can be tricky.  

It’s likely that you haven’t been in contact with this type of environment before, and while you shouldn’t be afraid to show emotion, being resilient when you are face-to-face with extreme poverty on a daily basis is something you should be able to do. Not everyone can do this, and there’s absolutely no shame in admitting that you could be too sensitive to cope with some of the situations that volunteers encounter. Overcoming challenges give you the chance to develop as a person and help you to shape who you are, so you could well find that this is the making of you though.  

Whatever you’re thinking of doing as a volunteer, if you feel as though you have the above qualities, then you are on the right path to becoming a success. Grasp the opportunity with both hands and be the best person you can be!

Other Thoughts

We've always got plenty going on, so why not check out some of our other latest news and thoughts? Or perhaps you're ready to gt stuck in yourself? If so, Apply Now to get in touch with one of our specialist trip advisors.

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