Social work & volunteering while traveling: Why it matters

Social work can encompass a multitude of concepts, themes, and ideas of great importance… At this point, I want to focus on the importance of travel as a fundamental factor for social change. As I said, IT MATTERS.

Everyone loves traveling. Everybody loves new places, new faces new challenges… But how close does your traveling take you to making an ACTUAL change?  To many people, it may seem like volunteering while traveling is just unnecessary. They feel like you don’t really make a lasting change… But the thing is that you do.

When I was young, I studied in a Catholic high school from 7th to 12th grade, and obviously, I was taught the regular subjects: history, biology, English literature, Spanish… But there was also a very interesting and intriguing element to my education that ended up changing my life: Social work (as a compulsory activity).

And yeah… We also had a lot of priests from the USA coming to give us lectures or just talk to us during class time, and (although I’m not religious AT ALL), I did find some things they told me eye-opening, and even if I only saw them once, I keep their words engraved in my brain.

WHY ABROAD

The encounter of different affected communities in a vulnerable sector has an overwhelming force, the power, love and courage of the young fighters penetrate all the barriers, cross hearts and move walls and borders! If anything, it pulls you CLOSER to the place where you come from, not push you away.  The encounter of cultures other than music, dances, songs and customs promotes passion, pride, love for art, for culture and for the well-being of communities, allowing an inner change in the young minds, that will eventually make a change in their lives.

SOCIAL WORK &  TRAVEL 

Social work came to me in the form of travel, and travel as the fundamental center of social work, because it is the journey that allows exchange and therefore change. The journey necessarily involves learning, an opening of the mind. An experience of constant growth, of flowing and let flow, of continuous and common discoveries and teachings with different people, meeting with the other, seeing myself reflected, comparing and finding cultural differences, as well as surprises, and pushes you to the edge of what you thought was possible.

 

LEARNING

The first step to actually make something of yourself when it comes to social work… you need an open mind. If you come from a country that has deep inequality issues (like my own, Mexico, where a portion of the country lives below the poverty line), you are probably familiar with the needs of the less fortunate anywhere.

Any socially charged journey requires you to be attentive to every detail, to observe the differences… To listen and understand. Analyze the environment to learn. The traveler can see, hear, feel and dream together with the other – to share the passion, to dream, to laugh and to cry with your peers.

BREAKING PREJUDICES AND SHARING LOVE

Social work has to begin with the young people as factors of social construction and new opportunities. By valuing others, without prejudice, as a creative power of well-being travellers create change. Thus, they allow both the community to stand on its own in a way other than violence, and to be able to free time to dedicate it to their community. There are many people who travel to change stuff. Whether it is in different cities in India to fight sexual abuse, or traveling the world to educate about personal strength... Gamechangers are everywhere. And it was about time, too.

DYNAMICS AND CHANGE

Travel is fundamental in change, a dynamic society allows transformation. A change is necessary from the grassroots of the communities from the young people who live with less, and it is up to travelers to be the motor or social change, to lead and promote development,  followed by other young people. Volunteer work is real work. Doing it while you travel is just one more of the things you should look up for.

Social work anywhere

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In every country, there is something you can do. Starting with Mexico, you can get involved with any social cause, from women, to farmers, to human trafficking, or kids. In India, I actually took on classes from ClapGlobal in Mumbai, and teaching kids about my country was eye-opening to them! Even if it is ONE day, IT IS CHANGE. Do you remember a conference or talk you ever heard? Well, that stuck with you and it was one day too.

Have you ever done social work while traveling? Tell me in the comments! I would love to feature you in my next “Gamechangers” article! 

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