With the abundance of service opportunities available, how do you choose which program is right for you? A little research and reflection will have a huge impact on finding the right volunteer site and will make for a life-changing experience.
Clarify Your Motivation
-What needs, interests, preferences, and motivations do you have in seeking to do full-time service?
-How long have you been considering this option?
-What are your personal expectations for this experience?
-Do you have family/community support for this decision?
Who Do You Want to Serve?
-What population(s) do you wish to serve?
-Do you want to work with an ethnic or international culture different from your own?
-Do you have foreign language skills you would like to use?
-How much "culture shock” can you handle?
Type of Service
-What kind of service do you wish to engage in?
-Direct service or staff support?
-As an advocate or as a consultant?
-Can this service compliment your career goals? (For example, teaching, social services, advocacy, legal aid, development work, health care, food and hospitality ministry, housing, community organization, prison ministry, parish work, office administration, manual labor, etc.)
Where Do You Want to Serve?
-What geographical location do you desire?
-In the United States? Where?
-Internationally? Where? (Keep in mind that cross-cultural experiences can occur within the U.S., e.g. on the border, on a reservation, in the inner city, or with migrant populations.)
-In an urban or rural setting?
-Is climate a factor for you?
-Is distance from home a concern?
-Can you live on a limited budget?
-Are you willing to embrace a simple lifestyle?
-Do you have financial obligations to address before doing full-time service?
-What kind of time commitment do you wish to make? (A couple weeks or a summer? Several months? 1 or 2 years? or longer?)
-What are your values related to service?
-Do they match the values of the programs you are considering? (For example, do you want to embrace work with the poor and disenfranchised, peace and justice activities, simple lifestyle, direct service as well as advocacy for long-term solutions.)
-Are you seeking an experience of community?
-Ask yourself: Do you want to live with other volunteers, or do you want a program in which you are working and living alone?
-Do you want to live with the community that you serve, or do you seek a living experience within a religious community?
-Are you seeking a spiritually based program?
-How "religious" do you want the experience to be?
-What is your prayer style?
-Do you hope to share your prayer life within your volunteer community?
Provided by the St. Vincent Pallotti Center: www.pallotticenter.org