Our Lattitude staff love what we do, and really believe in the amazing international opportunities we offer young people. Each and every one of our staff travelled extensively when young, and between us have reached almost every corner of the world. We wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything, and we are always excited at seeing our new “gappers” heading off to discover the world and themselves.
Here are just a few of the many ways volunteering overseas changes lives for the better:
1. Volunteering overseas will change your understanding of the world.
New places bring new inspirations and you will feel really alive when exploring destinations different than home. All of your school history and geography lessons all of a sudden have more relevance, and you’ll develop a “wanderlust”, trying to see as much as you can whenever you can. A great part of a Lattitude placement is the length of time you’ll spend based overseas – you don’t have to run around on unrealistic backpacker schedules, as you can keep voyaging out from your home “hub” and have mini adventures in weekends, holidays and time off.
Take it from us, it’s so much easier travelling when younger, before the burden of tertiary studies, then jobs and families take over. Get out there while you can!
2. Volunteering overseas will improve to way you relate to others.
Although many of us live in diverse societies, we often, regardless of our backgrounds, find ourselves socialising in small circles, not realising how awesome it is to nurture friendships with other cultures. During your gap year overseas, you will make international friends for life, as you embrace differences and find joy in unlikely similarities. It will hone your communication skills, as you laugh your way through language barriers, and let’s face it, there is no faster way to learn a language than to be immersed in it. You will become more confident speaking with fellow staff members and also those junior to you, for whom you will become a role model.
3. Volunteering overseas will help you grow up – fast!
A gap year away from home will do wonders for your maturity, as you realise that although you’ll have a big team of support staff, the day-to-day of looking after yourself is ultimately in your hands. This is such a skill to have, especially if you are preparing to go flatting when you head to university when you return.
You’ll learn that you can’t always have everything your own way, and that other people’s opinions count too, as you work within teams to fulfil the responsible roles you will be given on your Lattitude placement.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t valuable, it just means that you will have to learn how to flex and compromise at times, and realise what an incredible learning experience you have found yourself in. Take it all in, listen and learn at all times, and you’ll find the “school of life” will provide you with knowledge you just can’t get from a book. It is inevitable that you will get just as much, if not more out of your time away than you can give back – yet the opportunity of helping out and changing lives for the better, even in small ways, is irreplaceable.
4. Volunteering overseas will give you empathy for others
When abroad, you will often get some perspective on “just how lucky you are”, and that most of us take our lives back home for granted. Depending on where you go, you could be confronted with scenes of poverty not often encountered back home. This can be tough, but developing an understanding of global economic issues and compassion for those who are caught up in this will make you a more empathetic soul. Although our Lattitude “gappers” can only assist in limited ways whilst on placement, many return home and rethink their study paths, with aspirations for trying to tackle the big issues in the future.
5. Volunteering overseas will push you to take on new challenges.
Taking on new challenges is what a gap year away from home is all about, and you’ll eventually realise that you are capable of all sorts of things you had never thought possible.
Putting yourself in positions like this early in life will set you up with a newfound confidence that you’ll only develop further throughout your lifetime. Life in general can be pretty demanding at times, and for the most part, you’ll have to push yourself to succeed – why not start as soon as possible! Of course, the great thing about a Lattitude gap year is the 24/7 support you know you can rely on if the going gets tough.