Study and Travel Center spotlights volunteering abroad

by Erin Madsen

Teach health care in Papua New Guinea, assist natives of the Brazilian Amazon with preservation, strengthen women’s empowerment in India, or au pair in western Europe.
These are just four opportunities of working or volunteering abroad that will be presented at Blegen Hall during International Work/Volunteer Abroad Week, Oct. 16 through 20.
Beginning today, University students will be able to learn about more than 150 programs that provide hands-on experience in various fields of work throughout the world.
Varying from one week to three years, these programs allow students to “see a completely different side of the culture,” said International Study and Travel Center peer advisor Jamie Clark.
Clark added that working and volunteering abroad is quite different than studying abroad: “You’re much more on your own, much more independent, in a work environment surrounded by natives.”
Informational meetings will be held from noon to 2 p.m. each day throughout the week in Blegen Hall 94 on the West Bank.
ù Today, students interested will be presented general information regarding volunteering abroad. There will be descriptions of many programs including their length and costs. There will also be a representative from the Peace Corps speaking at Blegen Hall about available opportunities.
ù On Tuesday, students who have taken part in volunteering through the Institute for International Cooperation and Development will speak about their personal experiences.
ù General information for working abroad will be discussed on Wednesday including necessary visa notices, and a representative from Vunac will speak of the company’s short-term tourism positions in Britain, New Zealand and Australia.
ù The Paulo Freire International Community Service Grant Program, offering students $2,000 for the program of their choosing, will be explained on Thursday.
ù And on Friday, information will be provided for students interested in teaching English around the world.
Interim director of the International Study and Travel Center, Erika Haas, said there is rising interest in working and volunteering abroad because more students are participating in study abroad programs.
Upon return, Haas said, students prepare to travel again and often they choose to work or volunteer at their destinations. “Now more students have international travel experience before college,” Haas said.
While the programs might sound exotic and interesting, Haas advises students who are unable to compromise to think twice about working or volunteering abroad.
“If you’re not a flexible person, working abroad is not the right decision for you,” she said.

Erin Madsen covers community and welcomes comments at She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070, x3233