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Vietnam Mission Trips Offer Volunteers A Chance To Make A Difference

By Deborah Smith

While many young adults prefer to spend summer vacations at the beach or enjoying rides at famous theme parks, others are opting to travel to countries in South America, Africa, and Asia to volunteer as teachers, medical assistants, and caregivers. Many find they get a great deal out of the time spent living among, working with, and getting to know people of different cultures, faiths, and customs. Vietnam mission trips are available starting at less than five hundred dollars a week.

Volunteer vacationers get a chance to see the world in a very different way than those who travel to foreign countries as tourists. They have a chance to live and work in communities where the residents may have to walk for miles to reach clean water and live in huts with none of the modern conveniences most Americans never think about. Most plans start at around three hundred dollars for a one week stay. This price doesn't include airfare, travel insurance, spending money, or vaccinations. It does include training, accommodations, and support personnel.

Volunteers do not need to be seasoned professionals to work in these communities. If you are interested in teaching, you can spend your vacation in a classroom helping a local teacher teach verbal skills and participating in some vocational training sessions. You may be called on to assist with English lessons as well. Many certified teachers who wish to volunteer are allowed to work independently in the classroom.

For those with a passion for the environment, there are packages that focus on jungle and coastal conservation programs and organic farming operations. Volunteers are expected to actively participate in the work being done which often includes getting hot and dirty. Volunteers work closely with community leaders and with international organizations dedicated to preserving the environment.

Animal lovers and those who have concerns for endangered species can volunteer for wildlife conservation projects. Many areas with fragile ecosystems need help preserving, protecting, and improving their stability. It is not unusual to see packs of animals roaming communities. Abandoned domestic dogs and cats are a problem in many poor areas. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with communities to help round up the animals and make sure they have food and shelter.

Musicians and artists volunteer to teach children and adults how to pay traditional music on native instruments. They may also introduce students to western music and the classics. Artists volunteer in much the same way. They introduce students to painting and pottery that incorporate found materials.

There are also plans for volunteers who are interested in working with special needs individuals and the elderly. Duties can vary from teaching to physical therapy to personal hygiene. Some volunteers work in schools with several individuals at a time. Others may be asked to donate time at social services centers where older citizens need assistance with all kinds of activities.

These types of volunteer excursions are not for everyone. It takes individuals with empathy, vision, and compassion to help in underdeveloped regions of the world. For those who volunteer, the experience and the friendships made last a lifetime.

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