TOP TIPS FOR BEING A TIP TOP VOLUNTEER

So you would love to travel to far off lands and do some good in the world? Giving up your time to help others in a cause you truly believe in is incredibly rewarding and addictive. But what makes a fantastic volunteer? It’s certainly different to what makes a great student or efficient worker back home. We’re talking about making a difference in a developing country and experiencing a whole new world. We’ve asked our International Team for some help, so get ready to make an impact with our Top Tips for being a Tip Top Volunteer!


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BE PREPARED

Do your homework. Before you even begin on your journey, make sure you are a fully informed volunteer. Take time to pick a project you are passionate about and have the skills ready for. Do you want to learn more about turtle conservation in Sri Lanka to help your career in Marine Biology? Have you got a TEFL qualification that can help you inspire children by teaching English in Ecuador?

 

Educate yourself. Read your PMGY handbook THOROUGHLY. Get to know who what why where when… research the culture, learn some basic lingo, but most importantly? Be prepared to adapt to this new culture, a different way of life. Ashika< from our PMGY Sri Lanka team highlights that things are going to run very differently to back home, so be prepared to leave all normalities behind!

KNOW WHAT TO EXPECT

Confused? Well, you need to be prepared, of course, but you also need to acknowledge that you’re gonna need a fully open mind. Every day will be different and throw new challenges at you; who knows what you’ll discover? One thing that surprises people is that you will actually gain as much (or even more!) than what you give, which can help to boost your CV and benefit your career too! Volunteering requires a lot of flexibility and patience, so be prepared to learn and grow. Listen to advice from those with experience. It’s not just about helping others and the great things you can offer, but developing personally as an individual too.

 

Josh from our PMGY International Team believes immersing yourself in the local community is key to being a Tip Top Volunteer; get to know the local team, respect the culture and be willing to throw yourself into every aspect. It’s good to be curious – question things that are different from life as you know it. Explore it, find out the reasons. What can you apply to your own life? All in all, try to manage your expectations and welcome new perspectives; challenge yourself outside your comfort zone, learn to adapt and see what fresh surprises you enjoy!

MAKE AN IMPACT

Founded by volunteers for volunteers, PMGY works with local communities in the developing world towards long-term sustainable goals. We know there is no better way to travel and make a positive impact on the world. Remember you’re an essential cog in an ongoing system – your contribution may be small, but immensely valuable! But remember to manage your expectations; Ashika from PMGY Sri Lanka encourages you to first fully understand what you are able to achieve. Don’t expect to change the world in a day, but instead change someone’s day in the world. When you understand this, you’ll find your trip significantly more fulfilling.

 

Keep evaluating how you can help, think about the local needs and work towards a sustainable impact that will continue even after you’ve left. Over time we can see the incredible progress that our volunteers make as a community, why not come back after you’ve volunteered and seen for yourself!


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COMMUNICATION & TEAMWORK

Important for most jobs right? Well as an international volunteer you’ll meet a whole bunch of people with diverse views and backgrounds from all over the world. Everyone will have a different idea of how you should do something; accepting and respecting these differences in opinions and lifestyles is crucial to progression. Listen to constructive criticism, manage misunderstandings and sit down as a team to plan and negotiate with EVERYONE. Now you can successfully work towards that common goal.

 

True volunteering requires being a team player, compassionate and understanding of everyone around you. You might not necessarily agree with everyone, but that doesn’t mean you’re right and they’re wrong? By volunteering, you can develop your leadership skills and learn to see the world in a different light. Become a global citizen in an exciting movement of proactive volunteers from around the globe to make a valuable and sustainable impact on your community. It’s time to join the PMGY family!

CREATIVITY & ENTHUSIASM

Your experience will be what you make it to be. A volunteer’s attitude and approach will determine what they gain from it, so bringing a whole bunch of passion and positivity will serve you well! Steph from our PMGY International Team says to be proactive in the projects, stay open-minded, but most importantly – start every day with a SMILE! It’s infectious and will inspire all those around you, from a homesick roommate to the eager kids at your project. Be an energiser, bring excitement to the project and encourage others to be motivated. The mundane tasks will soon become fun!

 

The thought of volunteering with some cute kids in Cambodia might seem like the perfect thing for your Instagram, but remember the reality of volunteering. It’s often mentally and physically exhausting, especially working in a tropical climate or when the mosquitos keep you awake all night. But your creativity and enthusiasm will push you to motivate yourself. Jo from our PMGY Bali team advises to think outside the box, go that extra mile. Focus on the positive effect you’re having on the local community, think about why you came to volunteer and with a collaborative mindset, you can achieve great things at your project.


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COMMITMENT & RELIABILITY

The projects are incredibly grateful for all the volunteer’s contributions, however they fundamentally rely on your commitment to the cause in order to survive. Being on time and completing your tasks efficiently will enable the best outcome for your community, as well as allowing you the opportunity to learn and gain responsibility. Reliability and honesty are key for volunteer programmes to survive, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it! The Top Tip from Meena in the PMGY Sri Lanka team is to communicate and liaise with the ground staff at your organisation, as these are the people who can help you make a difference. Voice what is going fab but also those iffy things that are going wrong, they are here to make your experience as smooth and amazing as possible!

 

Organise yourself. Be ready before you fly and be prepared each day before you set out to project, this will really demonstrate your commitment and reliability. From packing the right things to giving yourself an aim for the trip or the day. What can you offer? How can you best apply your skills, knowledge or passion to your project? You’ll have to be ready to commit your time and energy, especially for our teaching and childcare programmes – these kids can be exhausting! Whether you’ve come in your school holidays, taken annual leave from work or volunteering as part of a gap year, make the most of every opportunity to get stuck in. Why not make a video blog of your trip and inspire others? Ultimately – remember what you’re there for. You may not be doing a seemingly forefront task, but every inch of support you give in the background is equally as valued.

PHILIP RUSSELL

PMGY INTERNATIONAL TEAM

 

UK: +44 800 321 3564

USA: 1-813-422-5109

hello@planmygapyear.com