Volunteering Abroad

Volunteering Abroad

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 Volunteering Abroad

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.

Experience cultures volunteering abroad

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.

Canadian writer volunteer
Reuben Lachmansingh

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.

Volunteering abroad benefits are immense

More 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 launching of a new career.

Volunteers locals france
BBQ for Locals

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.

Take in local traditions volunteering abroad

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, or her, 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 traditional markets, 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 will get first-hand experience in learning the language of the people. One should not be shy in greeting  strangers with a smile and trying to communicate with them. Most would warm to you and would be happy to speak to someone from a foreign country at their doorstep.

community volunteering
Volunteering in Brossac Comunity
Team work and camaraderie help when volunteering abroad

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 camaraderie 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 city office.

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.

Volunteering abroad creates Peace, understanding and friendship

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 UK, Australia, and New Zealand. We are fulfilling Tesdell’s dream of greater human understanding and international peace through friendship and educational initiatives and now we can add volunteering abroad.


This article, volunteering abroad, is written by Reuben Lachmansingh, a published author from Canada. For information about La Giraudière and its volunteers program, go to Volunteer Abroad

Volunteers enjoy Party at Village Hall

To read more articles from volunteers visit Volunteers Articles and to see this video on youtube visit https://youtu.be/h-mdwCqkf1w