Volunteering Programs Helps International Students

The Academist

Many universities create initiatives to help their students delve into giving back to their community, both in the nearby community, along with communities that span across the country.

Volunteering, one of many activities a foreign or international student engages in, either at community, or national level to help better the terrain of society. It is a free will engagement, with no particular selfish interests, and with no expectation to receive rewards of any kind. Due to the lack of financial reward or gains from volunteering, people turn a blind eye to such a positive rewarding activity; despite this, there are endless advantages that come from engaging in such activities.

Originating from different parts of the world, getting to know the societies you are currently residing within, allows scholars to familiarize themselves with the culture, technology and values of their host country. Projecting yourself into your surrounding community, boosting your résumé with volunteer experiences, obtaining scholarship requirement related to volunteering, and much more not listed here are simply the gains of rendering aid to your community, and using it to spring board the initiative to gain relationships amongst your peers and potential helpers.

Every students wants to feel a sense of belonging into their new found home community; and what better way than to offer yourself, freely, to give back to those surrounding you.

Many volunteer opportunities through the universities, are available for international students to participate in community outreach. Being a member of certain clubs on campus allows a student to have a direct support group, of friends and peers, that could help initiate the student into the foreign culture. For many international students coming to the U.S. or Canada and unfluent or, with English as a second language; having community interaction either through volunteer program or other means helps them to grasp quickly the U.S and Canada official language, more precisely, English language, and in no time it becomes a fluent language for such individual. Volunteering can help to bridge the gap between foreign and indigenous students. It helps them strike a balance, allowing the student to acclimatized quickly.  

Many may question the correspondence between volunteering and a résumé, in other words, curriculum vitae as popularly known in other countries, to gain employment. As known, a résumé is used to show of your accomplishments and experiences, before verbally explaining yourself. Most employers look for qualities beyond the classroom walls, of such qualities is the ability to serve. Volunteer experiences shows to an employer that you are more than being a book smart; it projects that you have selflessly cared about people, and events that surround you in the community. It displays your charitable and humanitarian services. It also establishes your capability to put a balance between your personal and academic life, along with whatever you have going on. Often, volunteer programs help international students to discover, launch and use new skills to achieve their goals in life. Community outreach has the potential to generate new ideas and engage in teamwork to make fruitful ideas, into formidable new programs or practices.

Education is expensive! Students are always looking for free money, or any means to ensure they are financially able to afford college. Thankfully in the U.S. and Canada, there are thousands of scholarships available for both international and domestic students to take advantage of. Depending on the scholarship, the requirements vary to qualify. One common requirement is involvement in the community. Whether that be through outreach, or volunteering; participating in such activities could mean the difference between qualifying for money that would go toward your education, or the lack thereof. It is recommended that while  participating in community service or volunteering, ensure that you have it officially documented, or keep a record of the hours spent, name of the organization you helped, and dates; this will help your validity when applying for anything that may need proof of your involvement in the community.

There is not enough emphasis that can be laid on the fact that international students need to make friends and widen their scope of their immediate network. No doubt, they will be able to make acquaintances through their normal daily practices, but volunteering offers students more avenues to develop lasting relationships amongst other peers.

In a nutshell, volunteering helps international students to overcome loneliness, while helping increase the mental health of the scholar and their overall happiness. It helps to curb boredom and idleness, making them lively and full of expectation. In all, happiness, as well as balance is paramount, after all, the most important aspect of schooling abroad is academic excellence. In fact, being a part of something greater than yourself has the power to prevent such feelings from developing initially; submerge yourself with people around you, and positive activities will keep loneliness at bay. Records have shown that volunteering also helps students with both, identified and unidentified mental illnesses overcome their disorders.

Go forth, and give back to the community that is giving to you. Investing in others, in return aids in the investment of self.