If you’ve ever thought about traveling the world for a good cause, but just got a little intimidated by the whole process, this post is for you! Once we show you the easy steps to getting on board with a Good Neighbors volunteer trip, you’ll see how simple it really is and be well on your way to the adventure you only dreamed you could one day be a part of! Check it out>>
1- Pick Your Trip
In any given week, we often hear about issues such as the water crisis, human trafficking, or poverty in general, but can feel helpless to do anything about it. These issues loom like a dark cloud that stretches across the sky. How is one person supposed to even poke a hole in that? Well- you’re doing it! No one person is going to chase away that cloud, but a whole lot of people poking holes will let more and more sunlight burst through. A volunteer trip is your way to make some light break through by doing something practical and lasting for people in another country. You’ll get to experience daily life through their eyes, help with urgent needs, and most importantly, empower them with friendship and knowledge. Be warned though, they will most likely steal your heart and become friends and “neighbors” for life. As you’re scanning our info page of volunteer trips, a specific country or project is bound to catch your eye. “Hey, those people look cool” you might think. Or “I could do that!” That’s a good indicator that it might just be the trip for you!
2- Ace Your Application
This isn’t an application for a job or a college entrance exam, so just be yourself! Take a few minutes to really think about what it is that impacts you about the work Good Neighbors does, and how it connects to your dreams or heart for people. Maybe even throw in some ways that you first got interested in volunteer trips or making a difference in the world, and future goals and plans you have to do it!
3- Conquer Your Funds
Ok so you’ve decided on the country, and you know what you’ll be working on while your there. Now what? Pillage and plunder! Just kidding. No pirates allowed on our trips. But you are officially an adventurer and activist, which is incredible! Your friends and family will want to get in on that! Not everyone can take a break from their job, family or responsibilities to go on a trip like this, so most likely they will want to support someone who can. So get out a pen and paper and write down every idea that pops into your head for fundraising or reaching out. Write down the silly ones, and even the massive ones! This will help get your creative juices flowing. Now pick a few favorites, and put all your effort into those. The cool thing is, even your friends who don’t have money to give would probably LOVE to help you with a fun fundraising activity! Here are some ideas to spark your brainstorm session:
-A letter. A real letter. People love getting things in the mail that aren’t bills! Haha. Write a heart-felt letter with all the details about the project and your desire to make a difference in the world. Don’t forget to give them a website they can visit to donate, or include a pre-addressed envelope to slip a check in the mail for you.
-Set up an account on GoFundMe.com. Having a link online to share on social media where people can easily click and donate is a great option!
-Make a funny video (something people will want to pass on) about your fundraising. Get your friends in on this!
-Everybody loves merch! BonfireFunds helps you design your own T-Shirt and launch your fundraiser online!
-Ask a church or sporting event if you can have a BBQ at their location!
-Ask friends and family for unwanted items and hold a garage sale (everyone has stuff they want to get rid of!)
These are just a couple. Pinterest is a great source for more fun ideas!
4- Empower the People
You’ve raised the funds. You’ve made the journey. But how do you really make the most of your trip? Remember that above all, it’s about people. You aren’t there just to do a task and bounce. Even if it’s out of your comfort zone- interact with people. Even if you don’t speak the same language, there are other ways to communicate: through gestures, through smiles, through hugs. Show them you see them and want to know them. People are empowered by being known and being taught. Once they see you care about knowing them, they soak up everything you have to show them. We want to leave every trip with people thinking two things: “They care about me” and “I can take it from here.”
“My experience in Guatemala prompted me to reevaluate my decisions and the values that I deem important in life. I realized the necessity of pushing yourself outside your comfort zone in order for self-growth. There is so much more to explore in the world, and now I can’t sit still knowing there is so much more work to be done. Creating something meaningful is so much more exhilarating than you may expect.” -Amy Chio, GN Volunteer 2015 *Link to her blog
5- Document Your Adventure
When you get back home, toss off your dusty sneakers and fall with a thud on your bed, that’s when all the details will be fresh in your mind. But it won’t stay that way! One week turns into two weeks and slip by fast, and you’re already forgetting that silly thing the kids did to make you laugh, or the way that mother looked at you so gratefully as you put the last layer of paint on her new cookstove. If at all possible, sit down to write about your trip within the first week! If nothing else, write down a list of the highlights that you can expound on later when you have a good chunk of time. And in case you haven’t noticed, we love to feature our volunteers’ stories on our blog, so if you do write it down, let us know!!
Well that’s it! Pretty simple right? You can get more info on 2016 trips or start your application HERE , or shoot us an email at VOLUNTEER@GOODNEIGHBORS.ORG if you have any questions (or if anything still seems vague or daunting.) We can’t wait to voyage with you and see lives changed- lives in the communities we work in, and yours!