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5 Reasons to Volunteer Abroad on Your Gap Year

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5 Reasons to Volunteer Abroad on Your Gap Year

There are lots of things you could do doing a gap year so why consider going overseas to volunteer? We’ve got the top five reasons right here:

1. You can get clear on what you want from college.

When applying for colleges, many students have a general idea of the subjects that interest them but may not be confident they will stay interested in those topics over the course of four years. Taking a gap year generates new interests and perspectives, and reveals new abilities. Adding volunteer work into a gap year not only promotes clarity but also generates new thought processes and ideas about the world. And volunteering might help parents save money in the long run because students who take a gap year are more focused when they get to college.

2. You can build confidence and independence.

Stepping out of your comfort zone may seem scary, but it is the best way to develop independence and confidence. Removing yourself from a secure situation to help others in need helps you to generate new perspectives on the world and enhances resilience and problem-solving skills.

“When high school graduates choose to go on a gap year prior to college, they reach a level of maturity and develop a self-assuredness that enables them to be more successful and more grounded when they enter college,” Brian Buntz, program director for WorldStamp Gap Year says. “A gap-year program that focuses on helping others also allows a student to develop self-confidence and learn the skills to assert themselves intellectually and socially.”

Volunteering not only boosts your self-awareness but can help you achieve personal goals – things you might not achieve if you just travel or work during your gap year.

3. You discover new and exciting cultures.

You can always travel to diverse countries, but volunteering immerses you in a culture. Many backpackers only experience the outside edge of the culture because they are just stop to see the famous landmarks to snap a quick photo. “Volunteers experience these cultures in the most authentic way possible, and they have the opportunity to impact lives as they transform their own,” Buntz says. Volunteering allows you to experience the inner core of each culture because you live and work side-by-side with local people and learn their outlook on the world.

4. You build lifelong friendships

Volunteering allows you to create lifelong friendships with all kinds of people, in ways that you might not experience if you only choose to travel during your gap year. Volunteering brings people together because each person is working to create positive change within the community.

5. You make a difference.

Deciding to volunteer on your gap year helps to bring positive change to each community you touch. Seeing the world first-hand and learning through real-life experience ensures a humble and gracious attitude. Katie, a current WorldStamp Gap Year Program participant, chose to volunteer on her gap year. Asked to reflect on her experience so far, she said she is less likely to be disheartened by difficult experiences and feelings because she “tries to turn them into opportunities to do better, be better and make a better world.”

Choosing to volunteer on your gap year engenders social confidence that will benefit you throughout life. Anyone can travel the world, but not everyone can make a difference by lending a helping hand to those who need it most!

[Want more tips from the TeenLife Experts? Here's how to pick the perfect gap year!]

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Written by Brian Buntz

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Natalie Olin graduated from University of Santa Barbara California this past June, with a degree in Communications. She is currently working for the Young Dreamer Network as the marketing coordinator. The Young Dreamer Network aims to empower today’s youth to facilitate positive change through volunteer travel.

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