MAKING GREAT FRIENDS WHILE VOLUNTEERING (BECAUSE IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT PEOPLE)« Back
By Katarzyna Majchrowicz-Dolińska
Why do we go volunteering abroad? Is it for helping others, to travel, to learn something about ourselves or to meet other, like-minded people? Probably it’s a mix of everything, but today we would like to talk about making friendships which may add enormous value to your mission of volunteering abroad. Although this is not something you can really plan and foresee (“oh, during this trip I am definitely going to meet me best friend for life!”), chances that you will meet interesting people are really high.
Why? Here are a few reasons:
- you and other travellers have decided to embark on a volunteering abroad trip to help others - and that’s already a good sign and a great beginning :) . Taking part in such a form of holidays means that most probably you share similar values with other travellers and that you have a lot in common, and when you have a lot in common with another person, there is a great chance of making a real friendship.
- during your trip, there will be a limited number of people around you – and most of them will be the people you travel with. These volunteers will become your closest companions for the next few weeks. With them you will be able to speak your language and share your adventures, which will allow you to get to know each other better and bring you closer.
- away from friends and family – it’s probably safe to say that at home most of us have our lives organised into routines, our days are packed with various obligations, and we are surrounded by friends and families – people whom we know very well. There are these times in life when meeting somebody new is a real challenge. However, when you embark on your volunteering abroad journey, meeting new people is guaranteed, and during your trip there will be plenty of opportunities to interact and get to know each other better.
- help each other – also, there may be situations when lending one another a helping hand will be much appreciated. Be it your phone battery goes dead and you accidentally packed your charger the previous night at the very bottom of your backpack. Or you have a terrible headache, and would give anything for an aspirin. Or maybe you have the blues, and would just like to talk to somebody? The easiest and most natural way would be to find help & support within your group.
- discover together. Building a fence together, painting a school (like we did during our volunteering trip in Nepal, and by the way, we made great friendships!) or simply travelling from one destination to another present many occasions to bring you close to each other. To help one another, to laugh together, to be awed and surprised. These packed with adventures days will definitely bring you many emotions and memories, allowing to see the other person in different and challenging situations, which are great grounds for building a relationship.
There is one more thing. Depending on whether you are more the shy or outgoing type, it will be easier for you (or not) to make new friendships. However, in both cases it is equally possible!
How to help fate and make a friend? Here are a few words of advice:
Don’t be afraid. Sometimes we are our worst enemies, especially when we tend to make mental projections. They block us, stress us, fill us with doubts – totally unnecessarily. You do not, cannot know what will happen, what the other people will be like, whether you will like each other or not -- until you try and get to know them. You risk nothing, and have so much to gain!
See if they need help – difficult situations tend to bring people closer to each other. If you see somebody struggling, just ask if they need anything. A helping hand can go a long way ;)
Just talk. You will probably spend many hours travelling, so there will be plenty of time to get to know each other, and we promise you will not run out of subjects. Ask the other person where they are from, ask them about their home, what they do, how do they like it here. You can discuss the food, weather, recall your travel experiences… It’s quite common that people will open up to others when confined to a journey or mutual cause more than if you would meet them in other circumstances. So take the opportunity, talk, and discover each other!
The truth is that if you share the love of travel and need to help others - it’s a great beginning. If it is true that chances of meeting a soul-mate are around 5-10% on average, then we are certain that they increase during volunteering abroad, as these types of ventures draw a special kind of people.
One thing is sure – you will be in the company of other like-minded and compassionate people with a cause. There are great chances that the strangers from the beginning of your journey simply are just friends you haven’t met yet, so don’t miss on this wonderful opportunity.
Actually, you will have an opportunity to meet new friends during our next trips: Armenia and Georgia, Nepal, Vietnam, Brasil and more...
And who knows, maybe you will return home with a new friendship which will be one of the best aspects of travelling?
Be open, be curious, be bold!