Volunteer TeachingA volunteer is one who offers a service for little or no pay. Volunteering is done for a number of reasons - to improve the lives of others, for personal satisfaction, to make future connections, to increase skills and the list goes on. Volunteer ESL teachers have the opportunity to travel the world to teach english
to many different groups of people, not just students in a class. Volunteer ESL teachers can end up at monastaries, orphanages, business places, in private homes and many other places. This research paper will address a few areas of volunteer teaching, including why people volunteer, costs
associated with volunteering and challenges they face.
As noted above, there are a number of reasons for volunteering. Ultimately, it is dependent on the volunteer - what do they hope to gain from the experience? What do they hope to leave behind? Volunteer ESL teachers decide to volunteer for reasons such as community development, enhacing their teaching skills, to travel and, quite simply, because they love teaching. Many volunteer programmes are located in under-developed countries where students are unable to learn because they cannot afford it. These working conditions tend to be less conducive to teaching and learning, which forces the teacher to adapt, grow and improve themselves as teachers. Volunteer ESL teachers also decide to volunteer because they love teaching english
in foreign countries, regardless of working conditions. They genuinely want to help students thrive in troubling environments. These are a few reasons for volunteer teaching.
Whereas some volunteer programmes provide travel, housing, food and/or a few other amenities, not all do. In fact, many programmes charge the volunteer a fee for participating. This fee goes towards the overall running of the programme including, but not limited to, buying materials for classes and community development projects. Volunteers on such projects often need to buy their own food and pay their airfare without reimbursement. However, as noted, not all programmes are structured as such. Some programmes simply request that volunteers work for a a stipend as opposed to a full salary, living with a local family instead of an apartment and impose other such low cost
conditions. Volunteering is a great opportunity to contribute to enriching lives of others, but it is not a financially rewarding experience.
Volunteer ESL teachers face a number of challenges. The first challenge comes in identifying which organization they will be volunteering for. Typically, profit and not for profit organizations offer the same services. However, some programmes are way more expensive than others. We see prices ranges varying from as low as $1,100 per moth to as high as $4,000 per month. It is up to the volunteer to decide which organization his money will be better spent.
Another challenge faced by volunteers is selecting a programme that suits them. Many volunteers return from their stay feeling renewed and ready to help build their own communities. However, others return feeling drained and demotivated. A very important factor here is the group that the volunteers chose to work with. Volunteers must decide what kind of groups motivated them and what demotivates them in order to gain the most satisfaction from their experience.
A third issue is that of expectations. Quite often, volunteers are not sensitized to what they should expect or how they should handle particularly troublesome situations. They are not sure whether they should discuss working conditions with a representative from their organization or simply "go with the flow." Volunteers should always do some research before travelling and there should be prepared for situations they may not have been exposed to before.
To conclude, volunteer teaching is no easy task. It does not pay much and, indeed, can see the volunteer spending a lot of money. Volunteers may also find themselves in uncomfortable situations and not know how to deal with them. However, volunteering is ultimately a satisfying activity. Volunteers work with varyied, interesting groups of people, interact more closely with local families and get the opportunity to contribute to the development of communities across the globe.
Mukaba, Zablon. (2010). Volunteer abroad cons. http://www.traveldudes.org/travel-tips/volunteer-abroad-cons/10258
Volunteering. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteering