International volunteering can change your life - indeed, 'life-changing' is the phrase that most often gets used when volunteers are asked to describe their experiences. It's not all highs, though, as there are some real challenges too. Anglia Ruskin University has a commitment to recruiting the best team for each project to make as much of a difference as possible to the community volunteers we work with, and also to make sure that the team has the best time possible.
We need great volunteers, and part of being a great volunteer is having the right skills for the job - but it's probably more important to have the right qualities. If you can answer positively to all of the following questions then you have the makings of an excellent volunteer. If not, then the Anglia Ruskin International Community Experience programme might not be for you.
1. Are you resilient?
Volunteering hours can be long, and most volunteers find at least part of the experience challenging. Factors such as the environmental conditions, the work itself, the group dynamics or homesickness can affect any participant. Resilience is an essential quality that will get you through the difficult bits and help you to maintain your stamina.
2. Do you have time to get prepared for your volunteering expedition?
Once you're selected for a team there is a lot to do to prepare for the expedition - some of it by yourself - but some in the form of meetings, training or fundraising. Can you fit this in around your study and your work?
3. Are you a team player?
All Anglia Ruskin international volunteers work in teams before, during and after the expedition. Team work, and all the qualities that make for good team work, are essential. These include patience, listening skills, knowing when to contribute and when to hold back, and compassion.
4. Can you adapt to new situations?
Whether it's the weather, the food, the accommodation, group living or a new culture, volunteers need not only to be adaptable but also flexible to any changes that might happen to plans along the way.
5. Are you culturally sensitive?
One of the most exciting things about international volunteering is experiencing a new culture. But it's easy to cause offence or to send a message that you didn't intend when you're unsure of cultural norms. Volunteers need to do their best to be sensitive to the culture of the people they will be working with, whether it's people from the host organisation or cultural differences within the volunteering team.
6. Are you prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in?
It goes without saying - we expect all volunteers to do their very best at all times, and to get the job done.
7. Are you proactive?
It helps to be outgoing on a project but we don't want a team of extroverts! What we do want, however, is for every volunteer to be proactive in getting on with work, asking questions, sensitively raising concerns and making suggestions where necessary.
8. Will you look out for your teammates and the other people you are working with?
You will be with a team leader on your volunteering expedition but everyone is responsible for their own safety and well-being and the safety and well-being of those around them.
9. Can you reflect on the amazing times and the challenging times to make the most of your experience and learn from it no matter what?
Volunteering can seriously affect your employability! It will change you as a person in ways that you might not expect. We want the kind of volunteers who can look at the experience as a whole and use it to open more doors.
10. Are you excited about meeting new people, gaining new experiences, being taken out of your comfort zone, contributing to a great cause and being changed as a person?
Of course you are and we are excited to be able to help you do that.