IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE JOB, but you have not yet decided what profession you want to master, if you want to go to the ends of the earth, but finances sing romances, if you took a pause between leaving your old position and leaving for a new one, if you are a philanthropist at heart, you can become a volunteer. Moreover, in a crisis, working for food is not so bad.
What is volunteering and what is it like?
Volunteering is work that is carried out on a voluntary basis and does not involve monetary compensation. It is impossible to establish the exact date of the origin of this approach: formally, even one of our ancestors can be considered the first volunteer, who helped light a fire for his neighbor from a nearby cave, without expecting anything in return. If we approach the issue more formally, volunteering, or voluntary assistance to those in need, in Russia is rooted in the work of sisters of mercy, the creation of orphan schools maintained at the expense of alms, the activities of doctors who worked for free in hospitals during the numerous wars of the Russian Empire, in the activity of the Timurovites and vigilantes. In the United States, the popularization of voluntary uncompensated work began in the days of Benjamin Franklin, when the first volunteer fire brigade was created in Philadelphia. The Americans began to massively participate in volunteer work later thanks to the Red Cross.
There are now many volunteer organizations around the world where you can work in exchange for room and board. You give your work and experience - you are fed for it and provided with a place to sleep. Sometimes for volunteer work you can get some kind of nice bonus like a ticket to a music concert or a "temporary loan" - the opportunity to do an hour of various activities like swimming or learning a foreign language. Some are turning volunteering into a way of life, earning little pocket money and moving between cheese farms, construction sites and schools where local children learn English.
Volunteering can be temporary or regular. Temporary volunteering is popular at events like the Olympic Games, Formula 1, and various marathons. Eco-and educational projects, as a rule, also imply a certain period of work agreed in advance with the organizers. At the same time, the volunteer has the opportunity to become a participant in the events and see the life of the project from the inside: you can, for example, accidentally meet Usain Bolt in slippers in the Olympic Village, look at the tires of a smoking car on a test drive, help turtles get to the ocean or harvest oranges somewhere somewhere in the Spanish wilderness.
But if you want to be, for example, a doctor-clown or a volunteer of the Give Life Foundation, in order to work in a hospital, you need to be ready for regular work. It is preceded by selection and preliminary preparation, which can take from several weeks to several months.
Where to begin?
First you need to dream and honestly ask yourself what you want: working for free in a job you don't like is a dubious idea. Perhaps, as a child, you dreamed of becoming a clown and delighting children, or you wanted to ride horses and take care of them, but your parents forbade them? Or have you long wanted to work in Italy to speak Italian like Adriano Celentano? Or maybe you want to cross the oceans? Or do you want to learn how to grow potatoes and tomatoes or build houses, even though you've only built LEGOs in your life? Or are you tired that garbage is lying around in a nearby park, and you would be happy to wave a rake at a clean-up day?
If work "in the fields" is not your strong point, you can try creative projects - for example, work in museums (for example, the State Tretyakov Gallery, the State Hermitage, the N.K. Roerich Center-Museum and other large Russian and foreign museums are looking for volunteers) galleries), at Russian and foreign festivals - music and film - and participate in other projects. There is work to your liking for everyone. By the way, some are hired in pairs, so you don't have to take your vacation alone.
When you are dreaming enough, you can start taking action. It should be borne in mind that often at large-scale and popular events where many want to go (for example, at the Olympic Games, Burning Man, Oxford Film Fest), they become volunteers only after selection, and you may also have to undergo training. In such cases, applications must be submitted strongly in advance - about six months to a year before the event: for example, recruitment for volunteer vacancies for the Rio Olympics began two years before the competition. The same rule applies to projects that require special skills - for example, special training is required to work with people with special needs. Plus, you need to set aside time for obtaining a visa and buying tickets - as a rule, you need to do this yourself.
If you want to be a volunteer abroad, you can find a project for yourself or contact aggregator sites that collect volunteer vacancies from around the world. In the second case, it is worth saving up some money for the registration fee ($ 20-60), registering on resources for volunteers and volunteers - for example, Workaway - and visiting a group more often where travelers post volunteer vacancies in Russia and around the world. Many projects have a Facebook page, through which you can also contact the organizers. There is no special single platform for volunteer vacancies in Russia yet. But at the same time, finding a project to your liking is easy: there are many national parks, farms, non-profit organizations that need volunteers.
At the same time, the volunteer has the opportunity to see the life of the project from the inside: for example, by chance meet Usain Bolt in slippers in the Olympic Village
For foreign vacancies, it is worth writing a detailed resume in English, where you can talk about your talents, as well as explain why you want to work in a specific project. As a rule, from the job description, you can understand what is expected of you - use it. Plus, writing a resume will help you better understand what you want out of the job and what you are willing to share with others. Work on oneself begins with goal-setting, like a theater from a coat rack.
After all these simple manipulations, you can send requests to your favorite projects. Do not hesitate to ask about working and living conditions, find out if you need to bring special things like raincoats, gloves, work clothes (not in all projects the organizers are ready to provide them). If you sent a request and no one answered within ten days, you can send it again and try to contact the organizers through other channels - via Facebook, Skype or the form on the website. If there is no response from the organizers within three weeks or a month, most likely there will not be one. This is not scary: with the thought that the project has lost a great opportunity to work with you, look for other programs.
After you agree with the organizers about the date of arrival, you can take tickets and apply for a visa, if needed. As a rule, they do not help with obtaining visas and tickets, but a regular tourist visa for volunteer work is quite enough.
If you're worried about security, then you are doing the right thing. There are no guarantees that everything will be fine, systems with a selection of volunteer vacancies are not responsible if something happens to a volunteer or organizer.Let's not panic, just recall the basic security measures that are needed not only for volunteering, but also for any solo trip. Study the reviews of other volunteers about the project, look for information about the organizers on the network. Never transfer funds not specified in the terms of volunteering to the organizers of the project. Consider Plan B if you want to leave early. Trust your instincts - this is very important. Some volunteers do not agree to participate in the project if at the moment of negotiations they do not feel trust in the organizers or if there is no information about the project on the network, it does not have a website, and the organizer asks strange questions in correspondence. Tell your relatives and friends the address and name of the project, get in touch. In general, keep your gunpowder dry. Read more about volunteer instructions and safety measures on the Workaway and Couchsurfing websites - they know how to strike a balance between trust in the world and common sense.
What to expect from volunteer work?
If according to the terms of the project you are not the only volunteer, get ready to communicate a lot - and with a wide variety of people. In ecovillages, for example, people with experience of work in large corporations can meet, who have traded office and management of subordinates for cheese production in the quiet village, retirees who do not want to spend days within four walls in a noisy city, students looking for alternative ways of life, single mothers who want to raise children in harmony with nature, and just eternal travelers wandering from one project to another. You will be able to see firsthand how many different ways to live life there are on this planet.
Volunteering allows you to gain experience of working outside the office and living outside the apartment. You can temporarily transform into a farmer, conservationist, baker, lumberjack, guide, restaurateur, physician, teacher. You will have the opportunity to live by the ocean, in the jungle, in the permafrost or in the steppes, settle in a tent, yurt, house with a history or a bungalow, sleep in a hammock or even under the open sky - it's like a children's camp, only for adults.
If you have to work with land, build or care for animals, be prepared for physical activity. Collecting hay or brushwood, digging the ground, taking care of the trails in national parks are not the easiest, but very rewarding things, and most importantly, the result of your work is immediately visible, and you feel that you have contributed to positive changes. Remember to stretch.
Get ready to learn something new about yourself. Perhaps you will discover a talent for baking or find that you have a "light hand" when you plant trees. You may enjoy milking cows and washing in the morning in a mountain stream, you may want to become an oceanographer, polar explorer, agronomist or builder, study maritime science or a foreign language. This knowledge about oneself cannot be obtained simply by reading books about the profession and dreaming of changing jobs.
You will be able to live outside the “commodity-money-commodity” system, use in your work not only professional, but also personal qualities, such as mutual assistance and compassion
Volunteering again “humanizes” work. The Gallup Institute has developed a staff motivation system based on a detailed study of the talents of employees who will work together, which allows them to use them most effectively. Volunteers can learn more about their talents without qualifying for a large corporation team.
You will be able to live outside the “commodity-money-commodity” system, use in your work not only professional, but also personal qualities, such as mutual assistance and compassion. Money motivation has become familiar to us, so the experience of life outside of it can be especially valuable. You will work without wages and profits, but at the same time you will not have to spend money on transport, meals in office canteens or restaurants, things that correspond to the dress code and the status that you occupy on the public ladder.
Also, volunteers realize in their work a valuable desire to be kind, to see in their volunteer colleague, first of all, a person, and not a function that he performs at work.In volunteer projects, company directors, project managers, legal assistants, retirees, students and doctors can together lay the foundation for the future school building, and no one cares about who has achieved what in everyday life.
Difficulties of volunteering
Do not expect comfortable conditions - perhaps you will live in a room that you do not like, eat unusual food, get up early, do “dirty” work, some of the other volunteers may annoy you. It is not always possible to understand all the nuances of working, living and participating in a project before it starts, so if you do not wait for heavenly conditions, it will be easier to cope with the discomfort.
You need to be prepared for the fact that you will have less personal space and will have to share your life with other volunteers. Someone will find it difficult to live in a room with strangers of different ages, nationalities, religions and with different expectations from life. Conflicts also happen - especially if volunteers stay in the project for a long time. Routine, fatigue and difference in goals can lead to disagreements when you have to defend your opinion. This happens in any team, and it is impossible, and unnecessary, to protect oneself from conflicts: the experience of communicating with different people in any case will be blessed. And you will surely learn more about yourself: you will either enjoy life in a commune, or you will appreciate more privacy.
Don't expect someone to organize your free time - most likely, you will be on your own, unless the organizers provide excursions, yoga classes and cooking classes as bonuses.
In the case of volunteering, it is better not to have high expectations - then all the failures and surprises that will surely arise will be easier to survive, and there will be more joy from the good moments of the project. If you are ready for adventure and new experience - a backpack in your back and go! If volunteering doesn't fit into your lifestyle, you are most likely reading other material already.
Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Flickr (1, 2, 3, 4)