“Volunteering” or “humanitarianism” is a distinctly human characteristic, which is fundamental for the creation of an evolving and sustaining society. It is also a feature of a collectivist society where the spirit of “giving” holds primacy. In the present times, when there is a need for increased participation of all tenets of society in order to achieve sustainable development, students coming forward to volunteer is good news and not just for the beneficiaries but also for the students themselves.

Volunteerism, volunteer tourism, or voluntourism as a multifaceted practical experience helps in the holistic development of students by giving them a broader perspective of life. As an act of philanthropy, volunteering experiences expose students to a culture of interdependent sustainability and paves the path for their bright future.

A number of scientifically and research-backed studies across the world have observed categorically that the benefits of volunteering are all-encompassing in the holistic development of students. The experiences across the verticals of psychological, social, professional, personal and pro-health aspects enable students to nurture their skills, develop new qualities, adapt to diverse cultures, invoke curiosity, and evolve as a generous social being and a career focused aspirant.

A volunteering experience by students has a direct bearing on the exposure that he/she gets and that’s because:

Helps in honing specific job skills: For instance, if a student volunteers to work on a marine conservation project in say, Sri Lanka, he/she can focus on honing skills and knowledge needed to take up professions such as a conservationist/marine biologist to name a few. The educational volunteering experiences create an opportunity for skill development and up-skilling for students and help them explore their true potential and abilities while they are working out of their comfort zone. By learning their true strengths and weaknesses, students can generate interest in new career avenues which can carve a shining future for them.

Students can become a ‘people’s person’: The first thought that volunteerism sows in minds of students are “delivering good to society”. Being sociable and amiable with people is an essential life skill that volunteering facilitates by its virtue of being a social activity. The definition of all-round development includes qualities of empathy, harmony, humanity, and societal living, which can only be inculcated in students through volunteering experiences. This is why every leading educational institute encompasses volunteering activities into their curriculum around the globe.

Exposes students to multicultural setups with significant benefits: Exposure to a multicultural setup and that too an engaging exposure such as volunteering abroad goes a long way in giving beneficial exposure to students. This includes being more creative, having better idea formation, and enhanced acclimatising skills. The diversified cultures and traditions spread across the world behold the true treasure for humanity. Practical experience through cultural immersion helps students to build new perspective, develop creativity, and define their aims and goals in life. In fact, these experiences also give students a chance to learn and practice multiple languages facilitating their evolution into a global human being.

Widens a student’s worldview: It is one thing to read about how water pollution is damaging marine life in another part of the world and causing climate change, and altogether a different thing to witness the same in an up, close and personal way. Volunteering experiences bring students close to real life situations where they have to physically involve in the conservation, preservation, safeguard, development and betterment of the environment and its different elements.

This is facilitated by volunteering for a project such as marine conservation that leads to widening the worldview of a student. Students not just learn but also get a chance to serve the society and nature by seeing, believing and understanding. The wheels of development are continually churning since the beginning of early civilisations. In the present age, this is quintessential for every individual to gain quality life experiences and better skills through greater exposure. Volunteering experiences are the best possible ways for students to break their bounding shells and evolve as developed humans.

The writer is founder and CEO, Volunteering Solutions