Are you ready to embark on a transformative journey volunteering abroad with Raleigh International?
As you step out of your comfort zone and into a new environment, embracing the role of a thoughtful traveller can have a huge impact on the experiences you have and the memories you make. Here’s a few tips on how you can navigate your volunteering experience during a Raleigh Expedition, by learning and exploring new cultures respectfully, making sustainable choices and growing new friendships:
1. Respect local culture
One of the most crucial elements of thoughtful travel is showing respect for the local culture and community you are stepping into. Take the time to understand their values and traditions, and participate in events, ceremonies, and celebrations. Embracing different perspectives and immersing yourself in your new environment allows you to build authentic relationships, learn and share new skills, and help contribute to their community.
2. Build new relationships
Similar to respecting local culture, learning about those around you, and their experiences, is just as important. Working as a team is a large part of your Expedition, and an effective team will form when everyone understands and respects each other! Don’t be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone and make a real effort to connect with your fellow Raleigh peers.You could be forming life-changing bonds, and making friends for life!
3. Make sustainable choices
It’s important to think about the choices you can make when planning and packing. Use the guides provided by Raleigh. Make sure you tick everything off the list, so you don’t encounter any problems along the way! Think about making conscious efforts to reduce waste, for example, swapping plastic shampoo and conditioner bottles for shampoo and conditioner bars – not only will they last longer, but they’re environmentally friendly too!
Choosing a volunteer programme that offers genuine projects that help with sustainability efforts is important. On a Raleigh Expedition, you’ll work on community and environmental projects requested by local authorities that support the Global Goals for Sustainable Development. For example, our Costa Rica projects are partnered with the National System of Conservation areas (Sistema Nacional de Áreas de Conservación – SINAC), National parks and Park Rangers, and the Ministry of Labour, so everything you do has a genuine impact on the people and places you visit.
4. Forget the phone!
Raleigh operates a no-phone policy, to allow everyone to fully immerse themselves into their Expeditions. You’ll witness some breath-taking views, work alongside local people and work on biodiversity conservation efforts, all of which are best met with an enthusiastic mindset and undivided attention! Many Raleigh Alumni have welcomed this policy, stating they felt as though it fuelled their personal growth journey, and they made much deeper connections with those around them.
(Top Tip: bring a camera, and a notebook and pen to journal your experience!)
5. Don’t treat it like a holiday!
An Expedition is so much more than a holiday, it’s a trip of a life-time! There will be lots of fun, but don’t forget to get stuck in and appreciate the hard moments you encounter and be proud of how you navigate them. Work together with your team to create the best out of every situation and build lasting connections with your peers. The skills and life-experience gained on these Expeditions are rare, so take the opportunity and soak it all in! It’s also important to step back and reflect on the impact you’ve made as a volunteer on this journey. You will take this experience with you long into your future!
In your quest to be a thoughtful traveller while volunteering abroad, you not only make a difference in the lives of others, but you also embark on a personal journey of growth, and connection with rich cultures and people. As you embrace your Expedition journey, you’ll discover the huge sense of pride and fulfillment that comes from being a catalyst for positive change in the world.