Sunny Kersyte from the organisation Frontier, told our Sixth Formers about the vast range of volunteering opportunities available around the world including research, conservation and community projects.
The not-for-profit organisation offers placements to around 350 locations in more than 60 countries and caters for all ages from 16 upwards.
Sunny spoke about their work to two groups of Sixth Formers. She said: ‘We engage young people to get involved in volunteering, taking a meaningful gap year and finding a project that they will be interested in.
‘We work in more than 30 countries including Chile, Ecuador, Tanzania, Fiji and Thailand. Volunteers can get involved in community based projects, for example teaching English in Africa or Asia, but we will try to make everyone's experience as exciting as possible.
‘The key thing is, if you want to work or volunteer you don’t have to take a year out. If you have a week, two weeks or three months then there will be a programme for you. The majority of people on these projects will be aged from 18 to 25, but that is definitely not the limit as we have many people who are in their 50s. Volunteering is for everyone, so if you want to take a year out then feel free to do it.
‘You can pick a placement yourself if you have a country in mind or a specific idea of what you want to do, for example scuba diving training. Our adviser will call and help you to sort out the best deal possible and once you are settled with a project you are transferred to a volunteer co-ordinator who helps with pre-departure issues like visas and inoculations. When you are starting to travel by yourself it is really nice to have some support to ensure that everything goes well. There is so much support out there.
‘It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You could opt for a career-based project or gain experience to get teaching or research qualifications before you start university. It looks great on your CV as you have done a volunteering project that leaves a legacy behind you. Alternatively, when you don’t know what you want to do, you can explore all of these options to find what excites you most. It is a cliché but you get to know yourself better. It is a challenge, but it is fun. Everyone says: “It was tough, but it was also the best thing I have done in my whole life!” It is just being brave, getting out there and doing something that you have never done before.‘