As the world’s biggest country, everything about Russia seems larger than life. The country covers more than one eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land area and spans nine time zones - creating a diverse range of environments, people, and culture. Russia also has the world’s largest reserves of mineral and energy resources and its lakes contain about one quarter of the world’s fresh water.
Similarly, there is a huge need for volunteers in Russia. Since its gradual transition to capitalism, Russia has been facing a wide array of problems that the government has not fully addressed. Volunteers can provide help in areas such as environmental work, cultural exchange, social care, education, and many more. With all the aid you could be giving, it is clearly time for you to rush to Russia.
Volunteering abroad in Russia can be especially rewarding when you choose to work in education. Teaching in Russia gives you the opportunity to exchange different teaching approaches and emerge from the experience with new skills to take back with you. Teaching opportunities in Russia can range from elementary school kids to young adults. The obvious option is to teach English or another foreign language while in Russia, but often you can also find child care or other programs. Feel free to get involved with your students as much as possible, and even create evening study groups or organize a new class that you feel is needed - with permission from your school or program.
Depending on your interests, you can either work in a range of different healthcare opportunity. Unfortunately, Russian culture still carries a stigma associated with mental disabilities. While volunteering with Russian healthcare, you can serve as companions to the elderly or help with recreational activities for disabled children or adults. There are also options to participate in hands-on work in medical centers in major cities. Volunteers can shadow doctors in many different fields such as surgical, therapeutic, and many more. Healthcare volunteer work in Russia is a great way to make meaningful contributions and learn more about fields you are interested in.
An interesting and unique way to make a difference while in Russia is to work with local communities to improve the quality of life. Volunteers can get involved by playing sports, leading arts and crafts projects, sparking conversations, and building relationships with kids and adults of various ages. There are opportunities to work in senior centers, youth camps, homeless shelters, and orphanages. Solvent abuse, sexual abuse, and prostitution are problems that are persisting in Russia. With the help of volunteers, Russian communities can pull themselves out of poverty and crime.
Planning Your Trip
Know Before You Go
Russians can be distrusting of people who are willing to work without self-profit, especially if you will be working with vulnerable individuals. Make sure you can justify and explain your reasons for volunteering abroad in Russia. It is important that you have reasonable understanding of Russian before you leave, as it is used almost everywhere.
How to Save Money While Volunteering
If you are planning on staying for an extended period of time, you should think about how you will support yourself. You can give private lessons or through a local school to make money if needed. Make sure you budget well before you leave and try to economize on accommodations. Russia is generally an inexpensive place to live and you can try finding homestay options.
Where to Volunteer
St. Petersburg: As a volunteer in St. Petersburg, you will be surrounded by the history and culture that fills Russia's second largest city. If you're interested in service learning or restoration, you will have plenty of opportunities to volunteer here! If you're an artist, you can volunteer as an art teacher or in a museum.
Moscow: Russia's capital, Moscow, is famous for its economics, culture, and politics. Despite having the largest number of billionaires in residence, many of Russia's citizens live in poverty. You can help provide an education to children who would not be able to afford it otherwise. If teaching doesn't interest you, you can volunteer to help develop communities through projects like construction and gardening.
Health & Safety
About 4-8 weeks before you travel to Russia, it is recommended that you visit your personal physician or a travel health clinic for full precautions. Depending on your age, time of travel, country of departure, type of volunteer work, and other details you may need to get any the following vaccinations: Tetanus-diphtheria, Hepatitis A, Polio, Typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, Hepatitis B, Rabies, MMR, Tuberculosis, or Influenza.
Other health tips include refraining from tap water and unlabeled vodka. Safety tips include traveling in groups at night or early in the morning, being wary with your valuable items, and learning about unsafe environments and areas. As an additional note, Russian law requires you to carry official identification at all times - but carrying photocopies of your passport and visa is considered much safer.