Today's post is a guest post written by Hannah from twentysixotwo.com. Hannah shares her love of travelling abroad on her travel blog, follow her and check out her posts on seeing new parts of the world.
How to Make Friends Whilst Volunteering
It’s not a myth that the best part of travelling is sharing memories with other people. However, many people are still travelling solo, which can be daunting. Here are some to make making friends on a volunteer project much easier. You may even meet your new best-friend!
If you are travelling with an organisation they should put you in contact with fellow volunteers who will be there the same time as you. Often, they can share email addresses of everyone going at the same time. Get in touch, add them on Facebook and chat more informally on there. If you are in the same area, you may be able to meet up.
Fly With Others
Although it has become uncommon for organisations to get every traveller to fly over together on the same flight, it doesn’t mean you have to fly alone. Once the organisation has put you in contact with another volunteer and you have started chatting, ask if they have booked their flights yet, if they haven’t you could look at going together. If you haven’t made contact with anyone before you fly, ask the organisation for flight codes of fellow volunteers and book onto the same flight as them. Even if you are seated apart on the plane, there may be empty seats to swap to or get up and chat in the aisle.
Introduce yourself to each and every person on your project within the first twenty-four hours. This is a precious opportunity to make a great first impression and show everyone that you are social.
It can also be awkward to introduce yourself or ask someone their name if it’s your second week on the project with them and you’ve eaten breakfast next to them every morning. To avoid any awkwardness, volunteers tend to stick to the people they know. This is why it is important to make sure you introduce yourself properly to every person, so that they aren’t afraid to talk to you. If meals are provided sit with different people at each meal time.
It’s not uncommon for volunteers to stick with the first group of people they meet on a project, later realising that there are many other great volunteers who they never really got the chance to meet properly.
Help Organise Events
Whilst volunteering abroad, there are always different events being organised by one or two volunteers. Whether it is an event for the local community, a sports day for the children or a leaving party for a long stay volunteer, you can almost guarantee there is always something in the works.
A great way to network and get to know other busy volunteers is offering to help out with the planning and preparation of an event. Even if it is something mundane, your help will be appreciated. You could even pick up a new skill in the process!
It is difficult to make friends and connect with other volunteers if you are always hidden in your room or your eyes are glued to your phone. Evenings are often very social, spent chatting and playing cards at the volunteer accommodation, mixed with evenings of all the volunteers popping to town together.
You may be tired and think that the day is done and over but choosing to retire early every night and not go out with the gang can ruin any volunteer trip. Not only will you miss amazing moments, but you can alienate yourself from the group if you’re never around, making it harder to connect during the day. I’ve seen this happen to pairs of friend who tuck themselves away in their bedrooms and miss out on so much.
Shy and independent volunteers who prefer their own company have to make a bit more of an effort to stay up and socialise. Group dynamics are sensitive and can often leave the group thinking “was it something we said?” when a volunteer wanders off.
Thank you to Hannah for this fantastic advisory on how to make friends whilst volunteering! Volunteering abroad can be so rewarding, yet daunting, but I believe by following Hannah's advice you can enjoy one of the most life changng experiences to it's fullest! Thanks for being my guest blogger this week Hannah!
Be sure to check out Hannah's blog TwentySixOTwo here.