Volunteering abroad is an article written by Reuben Lachmansingh, a
published author from
Canada whilst he was volunteering at La Giraudiere in France In 2016
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The word, volunteer, is derived from the Latin
word, voluntarius, and
the French word, voluntaire, which means one’s free will. Its early
reference was with respect to a person who offers himself for military
service. The word was first recorded in 1755 from the noun, volunteer.
Tennesee became known as the volunteer state since the Mexican War of
1846/48 when a call for 2,800 volunteers brought out 30,000 men.
With that bit of history behind us, let’s take a young person who gets
out into the professional world. He or she may consider building up an
array of experiences that would stand him in good stead. This can only
come when he looks at the broader and global picture. The world in the
twenty-first century is much different than it was in the previous
century and no country is an island unto its self.
By simply being abroad, he or she will not only intermingle with the
citizens of the country he or she is visiting but with those from other
countries. He will learn new cultures that will enable him to look at
his own with a more universal perspective.
A year overseas is never a waste of time, a year lost; in fact it has
been proven time and again that after a year of volunteering to do
something productive, the individual would have built up enough
confidence to resume the pursuit of his goal with renewed zeal.
than 21 million people from the UK volunteer at least once
in the year. The British volunteer labour force contributes £24 billion
of economic output to the British economy, 1.5% of the GDP.
Amazingly, two-fifths of the adult population in the UK volunteer at
least once in the year. Why is this so? According to feedback
information, the experience wrought from that year abroad, has infused
them with a greater sense of purpose and meaning to their lives. The
new skills would have improved their self-esteem and that most
likely would be reflected in their performances.
Student might find that, after a stint volunteering, his
dedication and commitment towards achieving his goal are much more
purposeful, leading towards early graduation and the
a new career.
While the person who is volunteering abroad benefits immensely, the
relationship is considered symbiotic in that the host country also
profits from the individual’s talents considering that the project
might be an ongoing one.
The volunteer should realize that while working on a project, he is at
the same time learning a new culture and language. Therefore, he should
try to absorb as much of both during his short stay in the country. A
common problem is that sometimes he or she is not mixing enough with
the local populace. He should make a great effort to converse with the
local citizens by getting out of his shell. This could be accomplished
by becoming an extrovert, even if it is for the time being.
A game of pétanque or boules, similar to lawn bowling, and very popular
in France, would bring you closer to the French. And so would a visit
to the market, allowing you to intermingle with many folk from all
walks of life. By conversing with the local vendors, you will not only
make new discoveries about the products of the country but
get first-hand experience in learning the language of the people. One
should not be shy in greeting strangers with a smile and
to communicate with them. Most would warm to you and would be happy to
speak to someone from a foreign country at their doorstep.
As for a young student leaving home for the first time, he may feel
home-sick the first few days, but this feeling of nostalgia for his
home and country quickly disappears when he develops a camadreie with
other volunteers. They can help each other get over those trying early
days and replace them with positive work habits that would lead to a
sense of accomplishment.
As a volunteer in France, I came with a unique personal experience,
having participated in the International Cultural Exchange Programme
(ICEP) started by the late Robert Tesdell (1919-2001) from his New York
During the late seventies to the eighties, my wife Pauline and I hosted
hundreds of young people from Europe, answering Tesdell’s call, during
the fall in our motel in Niagara Falls, Canada. They had acted as
counsellors in youth camps in the USA and at the end of their session,
were repaid with a tour of interesting sights in America while staying
with host families or at low-cost motels.
At the time of writing this I’m involved in a project that is the
reverse of my role in Tesdell’ s ICEP project, in that my fellow
participants involved with the La Giraudiere project in Brossac,
France, are from Tesdell’s USA, as well as from Canada, the
Australia, and New Zealand. We are fulfilling Tesdell’s dream of
greater human understanding and international peace through friendship
and educational initiatives.
This article, volunteering abroad, is written by
Lachmansingh, a published author from
Canada. For information about La Giraudière and its volunteers program,
go to Volunteer
The 2018 program starts 23rd April 2018 and we are open until the 28th
The reccomended period is 3 weeks but you can apply from 1-6