Prepare to Volunteer Overseas in Southeast Asia
Better prepared people do better work!
Serious volunteers prepare themselves for work in another culture!
Let's get up to speed and get you on track on what awaits you here. We will begin by getting you to realize the most important aspect of volunteering overseas:
To be an effective volunteer you must understand the people you will be helping!
So let's focus on the people. Everyday life in Southeast Asia is very dynamic and carries the challenges of living in an under-developed/developing country that is facing a considerable amount of poverty plus the demands and social norms of a relationship-focused and moderately conservative religious society.
All this implies that social interactions, which are the basis of most (if not all) volunteering opportunities, will be different from what you are used to. This carries a simple idea that cannot be overlooked:
It must be done their way!
By no means do we intend to frighten you (well, maybe just a little!) and we do not want to create a false idea that people in this part of the world are harsh or close-minded. On the contrary, Thailand, for example, is known as "the land of smiles" and Southeast Asians are well known for their hospitality. Moreover, no volunteering or aid activity would ever succeed without the local people having an open mind themselves.
So how does volunteering work in Southeast Asia? The concept of selflessness applies dearly to volunteering in this region, and this is where you – the volunteer – come in: adjusting yourself and your life style enables you efficiently and successfully to support people in improving theirs.
The bottom line: Southeast Asia expects you to come prepared! And by prepared we mean having the tools to communicate the local way. This implies not only language skills but also specific social skills that apply to everyday life in this culturally unique and attractive region. Without those skills, you will have a much harder time to connect, cooperate and bring results. With those skills, however, your time invested in other people's lives will bring about progress, development and above all: happiness to locals and yourself. And you enrich your own experience of these wonderful cultures. Welcome!
Monthly Cross Culture and Volunteer Training is offered by Openmind Projects in Thailand for overseas volunteers going to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Nepal.
Learning for life, nature and future.