Now, I know this isn't really the site for this, but people on here tend to have good ideas and have experienced a big range of things, so......
My (soon to be 18) little brother wants to take a gap year starting this summer, and to do a range of activities during it including "volunteering" projects (volunteering implies you're not paid, but many of them seem to cost YOU money), a diving course, and some travelling. I think he should include a project that will teach him some valuable skills, and suggested that TEFL would be a good way to do this - build up a bit of leadership and responsibility.
But basically, there must be some amazing things out there to do for a gap year. My question is, does anyone have any suggestions as to what they are?
- Current thinking is Asia, but could be flexible
- All suggestions welcome but would especially love to hear about things that confer a bit of responsibility
- He's likely to be on his own, so any travelling would have to be fairly tame
Thank you very very much for any ideas - I really want him to have a great time - hoping for a spark of inspiration from someone!
Check out the numerous projects i-to-i offer. There's bound to be something there that really strikes a chord with him....from working with poor families, disadvantaged communities, endangered animals, the list goes on
Re: Volunteering abroad.
I did a bit of research into this, and ended up getting a placement to Nepal for 4 weeks, starting next week! (I don't want to advertise on this site but if you want more info let me know)
There's a few things to be considered. I'm from Australia and the large, often government organisations (might also apply with TEFL, not sure) require you to spend a lot of money to volunteer, often more than even if you were taking a holiday in the country, staying in good accomodation and partying etc! A reason behind this is all the administration costs (you may be paying for wages/admin in wealthy countries), and going through large beaurocratic organisations that feel the need to set up every little detail for you.
The trick around this is to find an organisation that is set up within the country you want to visit - note that many won't have websites. Think of an isolated village of 50 people in the mountains of Nepal where the Internet, or perhaps even electricity isn't accessible - they won't really have an English website set up for your country with forms etc for you to fill in. As rosie as we'd like to think it is not all will have a large multinational organisation behind them.
So therefore many people actually go to the country first and try find opportunities there, and often do get placements without paying for anything. My brother was able to do this teaching English in Thailand, which is actually paid work but enough to cover accomodation, food and so forth with a little extra. (On a side note, teaching English is very desired in Asia as it provides contact to the developed and globalised world, and even in countries such as Japan may pay for these skills.)
What I did was a half way point, where basically I'm going with a mid sized organisation who do have a website, but are based in Nepal, so they aren't paying for Australian staff wages or infrastructure to set up online billing/foriegn exchange etc. The result is I pay about $700AU for 4 weeks, but this includes cultural classes, transfers from airport, accomodation, 2 meals a day, so I figure it's not too bad since I have the security of knowing where I'll be based before I get there. I came across Australian multinational organisations that would require $2000-3000 to volunteer for this amount of time!
Keep in mind that Asian countries where volunteer work is needed, but are still relatively safe and accessible include: Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Nepal, (maybe Laos?) and to a lesser extent Thailand. So it may be worth your brother just going to such a country first and find something through local organisations!
Of course do some research on the situation before he goes. Oh and I think Lonely Planet books also have some websites/info of local volunteer organisation websites as the authors usually get their information locally from the country.
As for the type of work - this is not exhaustive but some bigareas include teaching English, sanitation, environmental awareness, health awareness/education (ie. around AIDS etc.), building infrastructure for the community.
In terms of responsibility - your brother being on his own, having to organise where to eat and sleep, and how to adapt to another culture for a year I think will teach him responsibility either way
I rambled on a bit but I hope this helps!
[ Edit: Edited on Feb 5, 2008, at 5:03 AM by Erik85 ]