Green! That’s today’s watchword, both in our home country and abroad. Everyone wants to be more green – their clothes, their food, their houses…even their jobs. So why not volunteer abroad with an organization that works to make the world more green?
First..what do we even mean by green? The “Green Movement” generally refers to being more thoughtful about how modern actions affect the environment. People are encouraged to take actions both small (taking shorter showers) to large (installing solar panels) to reduce the amount of non-renewable energy we use, and waste that we produce. People also refer to making these types of changes as sustainability.
Most developed countries are only starting to make major changes to their buildings and infrastructure to incorporate green changes, but wouldn’t it be great to be a part of a building project abroad that incorporates green practices from the beginning?
Through programs like ProWorld’s environmental program in Belize, you can work with local organizations on treeplanting projects, and to educate local residents about ways to conserve their remaining resources. While planting trees might not sound like a big deal, ProWorld’s programs actually plant enough trees to offset 4,000 tons of CO2. That’s enough to offset the carbon footprint of every ProWorld volunteer, including their flights! ProWorld has both volunteer ($2,500 for four weeks) and intern ($5,800 per semester) positions, and offers discounts for people traveling together. There are also some scholarships available to offset some of the program costs.
If you’re more interested in the ways that sustainability can affect agricultural practices, you might be interested in the Farm Project in Ghana sponsored by Projects Abroad. Volunteers work with local youth to build farms using sustainable and organic practices, helping to encourage a new generation of sustainable farmers. This is a great way to learn more about these practices yourself, from building fences to planting seeds to using the right pesticides, and to bring these skills back to your home country, or to other projects! Projects Abroad offers programs from 2 weeks to 3 months (costs of about $3,000 per month) which includes accommodations and travel insurance, but not flights to Ghana.
Village Volunteers in Nepal also provide sustainable farming volunteer programs through the Baniya Eco Farm (the first functioning organic farm in the area) and through Govardhan Organic Agriculture Resource Center. Village Volunteers recruits, trains, and places volunteers with these local organizations, to give them more of an immersion experience into the local community. Volunteer projects typically last for 3 weeks to 3 months, and are flexible based on the needs of the volunteer.
Sustainability is much more than trees and agriculture – organizations around the world are making technological breakthroughs in the areas of energy and transportation, and are looking for experience volunteers to help them with these projects. Volunteers with any welding or engineering experience who are eager to travel and apply their skills to the greater good can join CERES (Centre of Education Research in Environmental Strategies), helping the organization to convert vehicles to electric energy in Australia. This project requires a significant amount of skill and previous experience, and can be completed with a part-time commitment. A great way to get experience with new technology while still leaving time for another job!
This is just a brief overview of some of the ways that you can combine your passion for all things green with a desire to volunteer abroad. Most volunteer programs charge a fee – make sure that you read through all website carefully to find out exactly what is included with that fee, and what the program will provide to you once you are in the host country. Rarely will a volunteer program provide airline tickets as part of the fee, but some organizations have set up frequent flyer mile donation programs to offset some of the costs of flying across the world.
Most of all, enter each new volunteer experience with an open mind. When you volunteer your skills and energy to an organization, it is important to be flexible and willing to try new things. You will be happy that you did!
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