Volunteer or Vacation?
Not all summer student volunteer travel programs are created equally. There are some programs that seem to give students what they want: an official charitable volunteer activity and a summer vacation, all in one package. Amazingly, colleges are on to that. As Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, was quoted in the New York Times, “We know the price of an air-conditioned hotel and a plane. It’s an act of affluent tourism masquerading as community service.”
Part of a Larger Pattern
Mr. Nassirian’s comment is not against vacationers, vacations or overseas travel. It’s not about programs that offer teens the opportunity to visit different cultures overseas with peers of their same approximate age and background. The admissions officer was objecting to students going on a vacation and attempting to pass it off as an act of community service. College admissions officers look for a long- term pattern of volunteerism or study, not a single trip the summer before one’s senior year in high school. A trip to China for a student who plans to major in international business and Asian studies makes perfect sense academically. It’s only fitting for a junior in high school who volunteers biweekly in the local hospital’s pediatric ward and plans to major in nursing or medicine to visit Ghana on a community health program. For a student who wants to be an ESL teacher in the United States, it makes perfect sense to embark on an extended language immersion program for Spanish.
Finding the Right Global Leadership Program
These are some of the reasons why it’s imperative to find the right global leadership program and ensure that it meets your needs academically, vocationally and personally. There are many benefits to travel and taking the opportunity to experience other cultures. Finding an organization that recognizes the different needs you’re trying to meet by going on an overseas program and has the experience to help you learn aspect of leadership and multiculturalism is the first step in the journey.
The Leadership Benefits of Volunteer Trips
Sometimes, you have to move outside of your comfort zone to begin to realize your real strengths and weaknesses. When you’re able to do practice leadership activities under the supervision of trained counselors in real-world situations, you learn that you can fail and still persist. You learn how to re-evaluate and retry.
The Language Benefits of Journeys Abroad
If you have the opportunity to travel in a country that speaks a language that you’ve studied as a “foreign” language back in the State, you have hundreds of chances every day to gain degrees of fluency. If you’re visiting a nation to which you’ll probably never return, you still have lessons to learn: of humility, trust and empathy the next time you see someone struggle with English when you return home.
The Personal Benefits of Travel
If begun with an open mind, encountering different cultures, languages, foods, religions and customs can open your eyes to different aspects of your own personality. Even as your eyes look outward onto different vistas, you can explore your inner beliefs, feasr, courage and curiosity.
Seek out Global Leadership opportunities and contact us today to learn more.