When your teenager comes to you with a desire to embark on an overseas volunteering program, your reaction may be a mixture of enthusiasm, pride and concern. Although local volunteering can be an eye-opening experience, a volunteer trip abroad can be even more exciting and rewarding for a young person interested in pursuing positive social change and making a difference in the lives of others.
Yet an extended international-travel opportunity for your teenager may also raise a host of questions and concerns As a parent, you may consider safety and security to be crucial issues, whereas your teenager may be chiefly concerned about sleeping arrangements and food. So finding a volunteer organization that will provide both a stable and secure environment and a positive learning experience for your high schooler is a major decision.
Global Leadership Adventures (GLA) has led volunteer and educational excursions throughout the world, providing high school students from more than 50 countries with opportunities to serve communities, interact with local leaders, and sightsee within the countries they partner with.
Asking the right questions
You’ll need to get answers to many questions before you and your teen make a final decision on if and how to volunteer abroad. The process of seeking those answers and finding out what’s involved with an international service trip can go a long way toward easing fears and ensuring that your son or daughter has an enriching experience.
If your teen doesn’t have much volunteering experience, then committing to an overseas trip may be an overly ambitious leap. Encouraging him or her to do some local volunteering is a good place to begin. Consider getting a first taste of volunteer work at a hospital, nonprofit, animal shelter or community outreach program.
If your teen already has some volunteering experience and wants to take high school community service to the next level, then it’s time to find out what he or she has in mind. Ask specific questions, such as the following:
How long a trip are you interested in?
How far are you willing to travel?
Do you have any specific language interests?
What kinds of work are you interested in doing?
The possibilities are broad and your teen’s interests and skills will narrow down which options to take.
A range of different high school volunteer abroad programs are available. As with any major life decision, you just want to be sure that you do your research and find a program that meets the needs of your student and your family.
The GLA program has earned a solid reputation for its high-quality experiences, and testimonials submitted by past participants in the teen volunteer summer program attest to GLA’s standing as a responsible, trustworthy organization. We strive to instill respect and responsibility in volunteers to ensure sensitivity for the cultures and societies they interact with.
Considering the benefits of volunteer service
A high school volunteer service trip abroad offers numerous benefits and long-lasting effects, including new perspectives on non-Western communities and cultures, valuable leadership skills, experience contributing to a worthwhile cause and an enormous sense of accomplishment. The experience of volunteering abroad is an impressive addition to a college application and may well inspire a future career choice as well.
Preparing for the trip
Being involved in choosing and planning for your teenager’s overseas high school volunteer service program can help him or her make good decisions about the experience and no doubt lead to a fulfilling, inspiring and challenging trip. By asking all the necessary questions and carefully preparing for the adventure, you can ensure that your teen experiences a rewarding and educational experience. When it’s all over, your high schooler will not only have great stories to tell, but also the pride of taking on new challenges, gaining cultural awareness and making a positive difference in the life of a community in need.