How being a volunteer in Africa can hone your professional skills

Ever wonder how you can build your professional skill set, travel, meet some awesome people and have a whole lot a fun doing it? You can tick all these boxes by applying to volunteer in Africa. Volunteering is one of the most affordable ways to spend a gap year or just break away from it all to find yourself and to discover that you have new lessons to learn.
Volunteering can make an unbelievable difference in people’s lives including your own. There are several skills you can gain and improve along this journey and here are just a few of them.

Leadership and learning

Are you a leader? How will you know? Volunteering can help you understand and develop your leadership abilities. Build your confidence! From a variety of projects to choose from like teaching kids how to surf, being a sports coach, working with animals or even getting practical experience in a medical environment, being a volunteer gives you the platform to learn how to be your best self. No matter what you decide to do, you will be able to boost your self-confidence and determine what kind of leader you really are because that is what we need in this world; leaders!

Team work makes dreamwork and so does effective communication

Team work and communication form an integral part of being a volunteer abroad. Whether you are living with a host family or in a volunteer house, your fellow volunteers are all out of their comfort zones, in a new country and experiencing new things for the first time. Sensory overload can get overwhelming and it helps to discuss these seemingly weird and wonderful things with someone who understands your amazement. Some of your fellow housemates or roommates might be students doing a college internship and some might be volunteering abroad for the first time, but at the end of the day everyone comes together as a “family unit” to enjoy free time in the evenings or on weekends.

But hey, if you are the type of person who enjoys some solitude, that is okay too. This is your journey and no one can tell you how to get where you are going.  At Khaya Volunteer Projects, mutual respect is very important. We encourage you to treat others as you would want to be treated. This builds positive vibes all around and often forms lifelong friendships with people from different walks of life that you would otherwise never have met.

Living with likeminded individuals from different ages and nationalities, while volunteering overseas, will definitely hone your team work skills. Being sensitive to cultural differences, working with individuals from the four corners of the earth, making decisions together and discussing pros and cons will make you realize the importance of being a team player which is always a tick in the right column when applying to employers or universities.

Improve your English

Many volunteers and students choose South Africa to improve their English. Next to other English speaking countries like New Zealand, Australia, the US, the United Kingdom and Malta, South Africa is a very affordable destination to enrol in English courses.
But even without an official language course you will surely improve on your English in South Africa by speaking the language every day. It will not only improve your vocabulary but also build your ability to speaking English with confidence.

Independence is happiness

Traveling on your own for the first time? It can be scary, but nothing worth it was ever easy, right? 

Luckily, Khaya gives you the safety net you need to apply for your dream internship in Africa or volunteering abroad on your own. We are there for you when you need us. Khaya provides dedicated coordinators at your destination who are just a call or Whats App message away if you need help or advice.  Sure, your family and friends will not be around to remind you to brush your teeth, do your laundry or set your alarm clock, but you got this!

Being responsible for your own choices and dealing with whatever comes your way is one of the most valuable skills you could ever learn. When things get a bit challenging the most important thing is to breath, relax, think and ask for help. As they say; ‘life doesn’t always give you what you want, but it will surely give you what you need’. And those are lessons that will provide you with the opportunity to grow and learn.

Time Management

Time management is a skill which does not come naturally, it needs to be learned, practised and eventually perfected.  Clearing your mind to prioritise important tasks, yes, this is also a skill which can be perfected while volunteering in Africa.

Khaya works closely with projects and often assist in the launch of long term programs by addressing a specific need in a community. Izizwe Projects is a simply example; they learned from research done by the government clinics in the area that there was a lack of dental hygiene amongst the children in the community. This resulted in a high rate of oral infections amongst the younger children. The team at Izizwe Projects decided to start a dental hygiene program in day cares by providing toothbrushes and toothpaste and teaching the kids, in a fun way, how to keep their teeth clean. By prioritising something that is so simple Izizwe Projects have created something that has long lasting impact on the health of these children. 

It is difficult to change the world in a few weeks of volunteering, but you can do your bit to help these organizations in their long term projects in a sustainable way by learning to prioritize the most urgent needs.

Self-Reflection is the first secret of success

No one is perfect and the only way we learn is through making mistakes. The only way we can evaluate ourselves is through reflection and volunteering gives us the platform to help us understand our likes and dislikes and what we can improve on. Volunteering is a journey of self-reflection and those who take it on are well on their way to success.

Putting your skills to the test

Volunteering is a way for you to find out what your strengths are. One of the most likely questions you can be asked in an interview is: "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" If you are able to answer with confidence, it will definitely count in your favour.

So, there are many skills you will learn whilst traveling abroad. Skills that will prepare you for the future but the most important thing for you to do is to have fun and make the most of your experience. Remember that it is a time to unwind from the hustle and bustle, get to know yourself better, enjoy yourself, create memories and have the best time of your life.

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