By Robin Van Auken on Volunteer Forever

Are you fascinated by people, their unique traditions, and exotic cultures? Do you like to try new dishes and new phrases? Or do you find it disconcerting, living like a local? Would you rather stay in a comfortable hotel, dining on familiar food? When you travel abroad you’re moving out of your comfort zone and it can be a bit scary. But when you immerse yourself in another person’s home, sometimes without running water or electricity, it can be very scary.

It takes a lot of courage to put yourself in someone else’s care, especially when your plan is to volunteer and improve lives. The experience creates a deeper understanding of your place on your volunteer program, and you find you’ve become the better person for having known them. Your perspective isn’t the only change when you conquer your fear. You have a change of heart.

When you travel to Morocco for the Amazigh Immersion in the Atlas Mountains with International Volunteer HQ, you’ll encounter the same feelings that Annelise did on her experience: “I truly couldn’t have asked for a better trip – my host family was fantastic, my placement made every day “working” so fun and exciting, and my extra excursions learning the culture and lifestyle were the best. Morocco is a beautiful country in terms of geography, culture, and all of its people.”

Or, go to Greece to work with refugees, and learn the meaning of the word “resilient” when you travel abroad with Cross-Cultural Solutions on a Gap Year tour.

You’ll also know you can accomplish anything after your trek to Mount Everest Base Camp on an adventure before volunteering in Nepal with Global Vision International.

Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.”

What does it take to act courageously? You can teach yourself, boost your skills, and give yourself the tools to embrace something difficult. Or you can act out of anger, desperation, or guilt, letting adrenaline fuel your actions. Of course, the first process is preferable and enjoyable, however, there’s another motivation for being brave, and that is by doing something meaningful that makes you feel purposeful.

Try an adventure on for size with an organization that makes you feel safe, secure, and purposeful, such as the Andean Cultural Immersion in Peru with Maximo Nivel. Bradley, a volunteer with Maximo Nivel said of the experience, “Two weeks out in a small farming community in the sacred valley near Cuzco, Peru was at times quite challenging but a great opportunity to be of service – making a real difference in the lives of the community for the long term – while at the same time being able to immerse myself in the language and culture of the locals. The host family and community were wonderful as were the staff at Maximo Nivel.”

When you know you’re doing the right thing, for the right reasons you can be courageous.

You know it’s the right thing to do when you help to preserve a traditional way of life when you travel to Cambodia with Globalteer. Every day, youth are leaving smaller communities behind, flocking to larger cities for employment or excitement. When you show them you appreciate their unique culture and that it is special, they will feel a renewed sense of pride.

It’s not just a culture that’s disappearing. Fronteering has taken a stand in Canada, advocating wilderness research projects in a First Nation community. If you’re passionate about wildlife management and land use, you can help protect this fragile place.

When your actions directly impact someone else’s life, you discover your own strengths and gain insight into your goals. When you challenge yourself to expand beyond your comfort zone, you give yourself permission to grow and to understand others.

From the Yukon to the South Pacific, there are communities with important, yet fragile, traditions that need to be respected and protected. When you visit an indigenous community, you validate it, and this influences its people. If you’re considering a volunteer or adventure travel opportunity, consider an immersive experience with an authentic community. Keep reading to learn more about communities with authentic, and enduring cultures.


Volunteer Forever  is a comprehensive online resource that helps volunteers find and fund their volunteer opportunities. It advocates empowerment through information and resources.  With Volunteer Forever, you can quickly create a profile and start fundraising right away. Volunteering abroad can be expensive, but it’s also a noble endeavor that your friends, loved ones, and communities will be happy to support. Learn more about Volunteer Forever here.