You Can Take A Meaningful Vacation With Vietnam Mission Trips

By Deborah Smith

After young people have graduated from high school or college, they often want to spend some time just for themselves before they start job hunting. Some opt for the sun, sand, and surf, while others take off for a theme park filled with rides, restaurants, and parades. Still others decide to spend a few weeks or months participating in a volunteer program like the Vietnam mission trips offered by a variety of organizations. Not only are they more worthwhile, they are also affordable and memorable.

Volunteer vacationers get a chance to see the world in a very different way than those who travel to foreign countries as tourists. They have a chance to live and work in communities where the residents may have to walk for miles to reach clean water and live in huts with none of the modern conveniences most Americans never think about. Most plans start at around three hundred dollars for a one week stay. This price doesn't include airfare, travel insurance, spending money, or vaccinations. It does include training, accommodations, and support personnel.

Volunteers do not need to be seasoned professionals to work in these communities. If you are interested in teaching, you can spend your vacation in a classroom helping a local teacher teach verbal skills and participating in some vocational training sessions. You may be called on to assist with English lessons as well. Many certified teachers who wish to volunteer are allowed to work independently in the classroom.

For those with a passion for the environment, there are packages that focus on jungle and coastal conservation programs and organic farming operations. Volunteers are expected to actively participate in the work being done which often includes getting hot and dirty. Volunteers work closely with community leaders and with international organizations dedicated to preserving the environment.

Conserving and protecting native species is an important area where many volunteers are placed. They may work with noted conservationists and learn the latest techniques being implemented to help improve and preserve fragile ecosystems. Domestic animals are often abandoned and roam villages and communities. Some volunteers work with local agencies to round up these dogs and cats and place them in shelters.

Artists and musicians often volunteer to teach their skills to classrooms of children. They may teach the basics needed to play native instruments or paint with found materials. Community centers are also places where creative individuals can share their talents with adults.

Those with interests in the social services area often decide to volunteer to assist with the special needs and elderly population. They may be involved in everything from physical rehabilitation to personal hygiene. Some volunteers assist teachers in special needs classrooms. Others work with seniors in social services settings. Seniors often need basic help feeding themselves, moving from dining chairs to walkers or wheelchairs, and navigating steps or ramps.

These types of volunteer excursions are not for everyone. It takes individuals with empathy, vision, and compassion to help in underdeveloped regions of the world. For those who volunteer, the experience and the friendships made last a lifetime.

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