Volunteerism, also known as community service, is highly valued in the United States. Anyone can be a volunteer, and many international visitors with disabilities have volunteered in their U.S. host communities. Although volunteer positions are unpaid, there are many possible benefits. Make a difference in your U.S. host community by volunteering your time and talent!
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If a prospective person with a disability meets the eligibility requirements for your volunteer abroad program, start with encouragement and then figure out together how to arrange the reasonable accommodations.
Explore the World. Create Access. Volunteer. Intern. Teach. Perform. Be a Part of the Circle of Change.
You’re probably thinking, “Wait, I have to pay to volunteer or work abroad?” It may seem counterintuitive, but keep in mind that there are significant costs for programs to send, train, and support participants abroad. Typically, U.S. sending organizations, participants, and host country partners work together to share these costs.
To make the most out of your service abroad, it’s important to carefully examine your interests and skills, and your openness to partner with community members abroad who will have different perspectives. While it is not your role as a volunteer abroad to swoop in and save the day by helping others, neither should it be a situation where you are sidelined from participating because no one thought to plan for disability access. After all, interdependent partnerships rely on recognizing the contributions of everyone.
Before you begin your search, consider:
- Type of experience. Are you interested in conducting academic research? Service-learning/volunteering? Sharing your expertise with a local community?
- Length of program. Would a short-term program (ranging from a few weeks to a few months) be ideal, or are you interested in a longer-term experience (6-24 months)?