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Why Volunteer in the Americas

Posted: 4th January 2017 10:26

To call the Americas vast and diverse is an understatement of colossal proportions. Home to almost one billion people, the Americas’ incredible landscape diverges from the Arctic tundras of Alaska and Canada, to the sweltering jungle heat of the Amazon. Its populations are a massive miscellany of cultures including ancient civilisations like the Aztecs and Mayans, to more contemporary peoples with a fascinating ... .

This diversity is reflected in the huge number of volunteering opportunities available throughout the continents, from teaching English in Brazil to rebuilding homes in the USA, caring for orphaned children in South America or volunteering as part of a bilingual media programme in the Caribbean. The Americas offer something for every kind of volunteer; adventure, education and charity are all a booking away.

A World Much Like Our Own

One of the strongest advantages that America has over Asia or Africa is its cultural accessibility – a colonialist history means that much of the continent retains strong European roots, especially in its linguistics and structures. This gives it a unique makeup as its countries all hold their own distinctive cultures and practices but also retain a Eurocentric familiarity. Therefore, volunteers will not be marooned somewhere totally alien. Though the national languages may vary between countries, they are united in that many are European, such as Spanish, French, Portuguese and English, making for an easy assimilation into the Americas for foreign volunteers.

Unique Cultural Mixes

The Americas’ colonial past has produced a unique blend of contemporary cultures which make for fascinating surroundings in which to volunteer. Cultural amalgamations like French-Caribbean offer a unique blend totally unique to the Americas, whilst the US is home to such a miscellany of nationalities that each state is its own microcosm, such as the French-inspiration of New Orleans or the Dutch-Italian mix of New York. Add to this incredible historical civilisations and individual island cultures, in places such as Cuba and Hawaii, and it becomes clear why cultural enrichment is a prized component of volunteering in America.

A World of Possibilities

America’s incredible landscape covers so many different types of landscape and civilisation that its volunteering prospects are limitless. From the sun-soaked beaches of the Caribbean to the snowscape of Alaska, volunteers can experience all varieties of landscapes to suit their tastes. Home to some of the mightiest volcanoes, mountains and rainforests on Earth, America provides an impossibly enriching backdrop for volunteers looking to be greeted by incredible panoramas. Be it an archaeological interest in ancient societies like the Mayans, or the glitzy attraction of being in a teeming hub like New York City, the Americas cater for all.

Make an Impact

Perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of volunteering is the altruistic benefits. Volunteering experiences are often linked to helping build communities, expand education and protect the natural world. Working down on the ground means you can see the impact of the work you are undertaking. Volunteering projects in the Americas cover everything from natural conservation, protecting some of the biggest biospheres on Earth, to helping rebuild communities or providing support for the vulnerable. A social volunteering experience is charity-in-action and its biggest reward is that your contributions will never be missed.

Increase Your Employability

Volunteering is a great activity to add to your CV and expand your skills set. Including a foreign voluntary experience will enhance your occupational prospects and provide a great talking point in interviews to showcase your unique mix of skills and experiences; especially as no two experiences are alike. Volunteering also offers unique opportunities to pursue careers in areas that you might not get to at home – in the Americas you could pursue conservation in the Caribbean or undertake a journalism experience working for a bilingual publication, invaluable opportunities even if they’re not in your chosen field.  

Make Friends for Life

Be it fellow volunteers, friendly locals or other expats in the area, in the Americas you’ll be sure to find plenty of people who are eager to make friends. Even after your volunteering experience ends, the friendship doesn’t have to. Fellow volunteers are the most obvious friends to make on your travels because they’re in the same situation as you. But, it is also not uncommon to find yourself with lifelong local contacts that may help you source future work prospects. Especially in emerging countries like Brazil, which actively court new businesses and professionals, volunteering and making connections are ideal for budding entrepreneurs.