The National Society of High School ScholarsNSHSS

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Three Transformative Benefits of Volunteering Abroad 12-09-2016

Kait Yankello, International Programs Manager
and April Stone, Director of Marketing and Communications,
United Planet, unitedplanet.org

In today’s world, perhaps more than ever before, it is most important to be able to speak across differences to create a world we want to share. Cross-cultural understanding and building stronger relationships are essential to achieving this goal and to establishing the foundation that too is necessary to address the global challenges that transcend borders. Now, in our 15th year of working to unlock the potential of everyone as a global citizen, United Planet offers programs that address civic engagement, global understanding, and building global competency and leadership.

For example, most recently, we had a teacher of the deaf work in Nepal with deaf Nepalese students who will return next summer because of the depth of relationships she developed. Likewise, a group from Boston Public Schools also returned this year from Romania with a new sense of community that informed how they too can be effective in their own neighborhood. United Planet volunteers also have returned home to start nonprofits because of a new passion they found while on a Quest!

So, why volunteer abroad? Among the many reasons, here are 3 transformative benefits:

  • When volunteers join United Planet Quests, they find commonalities among people wherever they go, they recognize that we all have something to share, and they learn that understanding and respecting cultural differences is not only an important part of traveling abroad, but the first step to uniting the world in a community beyond borders. ASusie A. Nepalmong the differences in values, norms, and practices, you discover that there is much more that unites us in our shared humanity.
  • On United Planet Quests, we also aim to address the shared challenges that we face on a global scale––poverty, global health, climate change––and work together to find solutions. During your time abroad, you will find that the world, though massive and grand, becomes a little bit smaller.
  • By participating in our short-term (1-12 weeks) or long-term (6 or 12 months) volunteer abroad programs, United Planet volunteers and host communities are teachers and learners. Volunteers have the opportunity to broaden their worldview from an international perspective and engage in a real way with newly found friends and their host family, often developing relationships that last far beyond their return home.

Finally, as a volunteer abroad, you will learn that understanding and respecting cultural differences is not only an important part of traveling abroad but the first step to uniting the world and creating a genuine global community.

Through a United Planet Quest, we aim to put this lesson into practice by providing opportunities for volunteers to engage with their host community in an authentic and immersive way.

United Planet Scholarships – International Volunteer Programs – Short and Long-Term Quests

NSHSS partner United Planet is an international non-profit organization, headquartered in Boston, devoted to building a global network of leaders and volunteers which fosters cross-cultural understanding and addresses shared global challenges through immersive international service, internships and collaboration. United Planet is offering a full scholarship (not including airfare) for any 1-3 week volunteer program in any of United Planet’s Short-Term Quest Destinations including: Chile, China, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Ghana, Nepal, Peru, Romania, South Africa and Tanzania. They are also offering five $500 scholarships to NSHSS members for any short-term or long-term volunteer program. Students must be age 16 or older.  Visit /about-nshss/partnerships-and-collaborations/united-planet/ and our scholarship page for details.

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