Volunteering at home


Sometimes travelers feel like they can only be instrumental while on the road, or that their services as a volunteer only fall within the spontaneity of their on-the-road lifestyle. Don’t let yourself fall into this trap. If you have experience in service related volunteer work, you know just how instrumental one person can be. If you’re wondering if it’s really worth it, chances are the answer is a resounding yes.

What will we bring back from our time on the road? Of course we will be filled with new insights to other cultures and even ourselves, but what kind of service can we bring back? How can we take some of the skills that we have learned along the road and make them valuable enough that others benefit from them once we return home?

Why not turn your flare for teaching ESL around, and offer to volunteer teaching a foreign language at your local area grade school, kindergarten, or summer camp while you’re in the States? Sure, teaching at any level in America comes with a list of required credentials and background checks. However, upon learning about my interest in foreign languages and my history of teaching ESL, I have been invited to teach master classes in French at local grade schools and speak about travel and language learning opportunities at local high schools in my hometown.

Even if they only invite you to teach once a month, or even once a semester, it’s novel experiences such as these that will stay with a child right up until they are ready to choose a major in college – or decide to go vagabonding for a year before beginning their studies.

Friends that I have made on the road have brought their skills back home and started volunteering in local dive shops. One friend trekked the Appalachian Trail and came home to volunteer with local Boy Scout groups and shared the tips he’d learned on wilderness survival and edible plants in the wild. I’ve met people who were endeared to the economic struggle of certain destitute regions they’ve traveled. One friend returned home such a place and got involved with local organizations and now does talks in high schools to spread awareness.

As we travel we are constantly assaulted with new sensations, new ways of life, new philosophies or religions. Why not volunteer and share your experiences and the information you have learned? Teach a cooking class after you return home from those years teaching in Korea? Start a Flamenco class at your local community center when you get back from Chile. What can you bring home from the road?

(Photo credit: bbc.co.uk)

Posted by | Comments (3)  | March 8, 2010
Category: Notes from the collective travel mind

3 Responses to “Volunteering at home”

  1. Rebecca Travel-Writers-Exchange Says:

    Thanks for the reminder! Travelers can do a lot of good at home by using their skills. Every little bit helps.

  2. Colleen Wilde Says:

    It’s not hard at all! If you learned something new on the road, say a style of dance for example, call your local community center and offer to teach a class in that style. Or offer private lessons in the foreign language you picked up, or lessons at your local grade schools. Lifelong learning and community education is a hugely valuable asset, and I’m sure local organizations will be interested in your offers.