If you have a knack for working with youth, are dedicated to mentoring, and have a passion for teaching and becoming a role model, then you’ve come to the right place! From South America to Africa to Asia, regions all over the world have a variety of opportunities to volunteer with youth.
Whether you’re interested in teaching, performing arts, sports, or child care, this guide will help you find a program that matches your passion and skills so that your experience abroad is both fulfilling and impact driven. If you're a qualified individual, go, volunteer with youth abroad.
Where to Go
South and Central America
If you’re into warm climates, romance languages, and making a difference in the lives of the youth, then South or Central America could be the best place for you! Work in a child care center in places like Peru or Ecuador, or contribute to the sports scene by teaching football skills to youth in Brazil.
Hop on a plane to Ghana, Malawi, or Kenya to teach rugby to youth in South Africa, or if you're more artistically inclined, go to Kenya or Uganda to teach fine or performing arts skills to kids who love to express themselves creatively. Teaching positions are also available for the teachers looking for volunteering opportunities.
Incredible countries like India, Thailand or Nepal are just a few of the destinations you can travel to while volunteering with youth. Work in child care centers in Cambodia or teach English in India, all while experiencing different cultural customs, languages, and lifestyles.
Romania’s history reveals a dramatic increase in orphans during the late 1970s, a time when family planning was largely unavailable and birthrates skyrocketed. The country is still feeling the effects of the crisis, and volunteering in one of their many orphanages is an incredibly opportunity to give a young child the love an support it needs all while learning about the history and culture of Romania, a country with breathtaking landscapes, a vibrant art scene, and incredible people!
Combine your passion for youth with your specific interests or skill-set! Your opportunity to go overseas and work with youth is a chance to leave your mark in the global community. Browse these program opportunities and find the one that makes your passions ignite and wanderlust spark!
If you love to mold young minds and serve as a role model for the youth all while creating a safe and loving environment for children to learn and grow, then volunteering with youth abroad in a child care setting is just the program for you! But before reading further, it is strongly encouraged to ask yourself, "Should I volunteer at an orphanage abroad?"
In recent years, the credibility of organizations working with orphans, street children, and other vulnerable youth has come into question. Before signing up, be aware of some common red flags that signal child care scams (e.g. they don't request a CV, references, and police reports in advance; they allow volunteers to work for just a couple of days; or they ask volunteers to work directly with children rather than supporting staff).
Knowing that the program you've selected truly has the wellbeing of youth at heart, and that your skill-set and experience will enhance the operations of an impact-driven organization will make your experience abroad that much sweeter.
From Asia to Africa, the Caribbean to South America, there are day care centers, orphanages, and youth centers for street youth just waiting for your commitment! Go Overseas’ Street Children page highlights the best programs for you to serve the disadvantaged youth.
You know what they say: you can’t have “Earth” without “Art”. So go explore this beautiful planet and meet creative young minds who have the potential to become the next revolutionary artists and musicians! Make the world a better place through your creative expression by volunteering in youth arts programs in places like Jamaica, Costa Rica, or East Africa! You have the opportunity to teach instruments, music theory, fine arts, dance or theater!
Are you passionate about sports? Have you experienced first-hand how working together as a team, committing to a shared goal, and developing physical as well as mental skills can enhance your life and the lives around you? Then why don’t you take your volunteering with youth abroad experience to a place like Brazil to teach youth football skills or South Africa to contribute to the world of rugby? You’ll be participating in the lives of youth while exercising your passions! Go Overseas' sports pages is a great place to start exploring your adventure volunteering with youth abroad!
Get the hands-on in the classroom setting when you go volunteering abroad with youth in education! Support school teachers abroad, assist with classroom management and lessons, and engage with educators from around the world! You’ll have the opportunity to teach subjects from math to English to fun extracurriculars like chess. So what are you waiting for? Seize this incredible opportunity to enhance young minds all while exploring a new culture.
Planning Your Trip
Soak in local customs, food, and lifestyle by spending your overseas experience in a home stay or live in a volunteer house and bond with fellow wanderlust volunteers who have the same desire to make their mark on the world!
Homestays are the most authentic experience you can get while volunteering with youth abroad. Although it may feel like a step outside of your comfort zone, you won’t regret it. Home stay families are vetted and approved by your volunteer program, so you are guaranteed a safe and supportive home away from home. Meals and bedding, a shower and kitchen, and a loving surrogate family, what could be better? When you live with a member of the community you’re serving, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the culture in a much deeper, more intimate way. You’ll find that your work has more purpose and your overseas adventure will have a lasting impression not only on your host family and community, but on you as well!
Another common form of accommodation is volunteer houses. You will share a living space with fellow volunteers from all over the world. Sometimes these dormitories are single-gender, other times they are co-ed. In locations where mosquito nets are needed, programs will most likely provide them (but it’s always smart to double check!) You can expect a place to shower, a place to cook or purchase local food, and a main contact to help you get oriented, find the best local spots, and settle into your new home for the next few months. Take advantage of your close quarters and bond with international volunteers with similar passions and goals!
Things to look for in a program
Read the Reviews: Well established volunteer abroad companies like Cross Cultural Solutions, IVHQ and United Planet have a stellar track record and provide staff support, reviews of their program, and clear explanations of their costs. Be wary of the volunteer program that seems too cheap to be true. It probably is.
Avoiding Scams: When volunteering with youth abroad, your primary goal is to improve the lives of children in need. Keep this goal in mind before you commit to a program.
Enrolling: There is usually an enrollment process for volunteering with youth abroad. Be sure to complete this as soon as possible, especially during high-travel seasons.
Age Limits: Most programs require you over 16 or 18 years old to volunteer abroad. If you are younger than the age requirement, it may be possible to volunteer with your parent or guardian!
Background Check: Ensuring their safety of the children is a priority, which is why most volunteer programs will require you to bring a criminal background check. Make sure you do this well in advance; it may take several days to complete the necessary steps. If your program doesn't require a background check, take pause; it might be a scam.
Volunteer Travel Insurance: Your volunteer program wants you to be taken care of! Most will request proof of travel insurance to ensure that, in case of an accident, you will be able to receive the proper care.
Passport and Visa: Make sure your passport is up to date and will be valid for six months after you plan on returning to your country of origin. Depending on your destination, it may be required for you to purchase a visa before take off or you may be able to purchase the visa upon entering the country.
Have something to contribute! This opportunity allows you to match your ideal volunteer experience with your skill set. You’ll have a much more rewarding experience when you participate in a holistic community learning: share your knowledge as you immerse yourself in theirs!
Contributed by Helen Seely