The lessons learned from volunteering for organizations within the vicinity of one’s home can be an enriching experience for teens, but volunteering abroad can expand a student’s understanding of the world in ways that are more difficult to achieve through learning materials alone.
Getting teens involved in summer volunteer programs for high school students is one of the most effective ways to expose youths to a world bigger than their own backyard. Raising awareness of other cultures and the tremendous need that exists in many third-world countries can animate students to make a bigger difference in the lives of people all over the world in their future professions.
Why Should Teens Study and Volunteer Abroad?
Aside from filling in an extra line on their college applications, are there any substantial reasons why students should spend their summers abroad? Volunteering or studying abroad will not only teach students about the world around them, but about the incredible things they are capable of as well. Many students are unaware of the effect their actions can have on the world simply because many of them have never seen their own impact on a larger scale. By teaching children in Nicaragua, building houses in Morocco and cleaning up devastated regions in Haiti, students can see for themselves how their efforts can have a dramatic impact on the lives of others.
Volunteering in a foreign country can give students a sense of purpose that can be difficult to achieve by simply visiting other countries as a guest. Students who volunteer abroad go with a mission, thus avoiding wasting time and gaining something of value from the experience.
A Brighter Future with Internationally-Minded Professionals
At an age where many students are still trying to find themselves and determine what they want to do with the rest of their lives, a sense of direction and development of passions can be acquired through volunteer abroad programs. According to Elaine Andres, a Volunteer Abroad Team Member at Go Overseas, volunteering abroad can keep students focused during their time in college and prevent the likelihood of multiple major changes.
The new understanding of personal potential gained from volunteering abroad can be used to shape the future careers of students by giving them a unique confidence in their professional capabilities. The issues that affect various industries within the U.S. — either within the economy, environment, or education system– can often be resolved with the help of other countries across the globe. Building stronger relationships with the people in other countries will profoundly benefit each party involved.
The impressionability of young students can be a dangerous thing when placed in an unstructured environment, but this quality can also facilitate more passionate and socially-aware future leaders when placed in character-building environments like volunteer abroad programs. By encouraging youth participation in these life-enriching programs, the benefits gained by young people will be magnified exponentially by the benefits the nation will gain in the not-so-distant future.
Zach Buckley is a freelance writer who is interested in exploring the intersection of culture, science and leadership. He lives in the Midwest and enjoys music, literature and good food.